The quintessential elements of Devi Durga iconography. The signature dashabhujadharini-roopa, the form (‘roopa’) possessed of (‘dharini’) ten (‘dasha’) arms (‘bhuja’). Unspeakable wrath writ large on Her face. The language of Her body conveying superior strength and invincibility. The painting that you see on this page is a work in superb skill and textual conformity. It is a depiction of the Mahishasuramardini, slayeress (‘mardini’) of the buffalo-demon (‘Mahishasura’), in all Her beauty and perfection.
She brings the mighty Mahishasura to his knees. Having seized Him by a shock of hair, She climbs atop His shoulders and drives the spear straight into His heart. Her trusty simhavahana (lion-mount) pounces upon him, making the defeat of adharma complete. This Mahishasura-vadha (‘vadha’ is Sanskrt for murder) image is an unusual one - while the Asura is traditionally depicted as having fallen to one side, the one in this painting practically occupies the lower half of the canvas surface area.
Speaking of canvas, the same has been fashioned from tussar fabric, an indigneous variety of rough-hewn silk. There is perfect symmetry about the details on the plinth and the surrounding temple structure, remarkable finesse about the lines and curves. From the blue of the annihilator’s flowing saree to the jewels studded on Her weapons, the colours glimmer against the inky blackness of the cosmos in the background.
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