This ten-armed statue represents India's most extensively worshipped deity goddess Kali, also called Mahakali, or Smashana-Kali. Kali cult and Kali worship prevail in India from a shrine to a cremation ground, from a metropolitan city to a tribal hamlet, from a Brahmin's abode to a Shudra's mud-house and from a sage's hut to a dacoit's hideout.
The dark-complexioned deity prefers her worship during dark nights inside deep dark chambers, inaccessible recesses of uninhabited deep forests or cremation grounds where the sound of cracking woods of a burning pyre alone breaks the silence of death. Kali bestows no bliss but her devotees believe all blissful in life is only her boon and she takes life as a sacrifice, dances around burning pyres and consumes fresh human blood but to her devotees, there is none so benevolent as her in giving life and all that makes it blissful. To them, she is the most auspicious spiritual presence around wherever they are.
Kali has been conceived as an awful appearance imparting destruction and as one who is usually gaunt, has fangs, laughs loudly, dances madly, wears garlands of corpses, sits on the back of a ghost, feeds herself on fresh human blood and resides in cremation ground, but quite strangely, despite this ugly or non-aesthetic appearance, she has been the first love, not only of the violence-edict warriors, thieves, plunderers, violent tribes or charmers but also of poets and dramatists from all over the land and from all ages. Significantly, early textual allusions to Kali worship first occur, in around the sixth century, in the literary works of these Sanskrit poets and dramatists. In religious texts and authorised rituals, her appearance is subsequent. This phenomenon suggests that she must have been a significant deity of various tribal pantheons of the subcontinent since long before and her accession in Brahmanical rituals was late.
The earliest religious texts that prescribe her rituals, authorised iconography and form are mainly the Agni Purana, Garuda Purana, Devi Purana and Bhagavata Purana. In these 'puranas' Kali has been described as the goddess bringing success in war and eliminating enemies. Like other female deities, she did not carry in her hands a rosary, lotus, pot or anything that promotes life. She also did not raise her hand to bless or to impart 'Abhaya'. Rather as the goddess of war, destruction and violence, she not only had multiple hands varying from four to twenty but also carried in them means and exploits of war. Some texts consider her as an aspect of Durga, though the tradition of her massive worship and independent status hardly support this view. There prevails, with greater unanimity, the view that she is Shiva's consort who dominates him. She is hence often represented as standing on Shiva's figure and Shiva is seen, as in this statue, as lying under her feet.
As prescribed in these 'Puranas', this statue of the goddess carries in her ten hands drawn sword, bow and arrow, sickle, mace, discus, shield, a bowl filled with blood, decollated human head, trident and conch. On her waist, she is wearing the girdle of alike-dismembered human hands and decollated heads and a garland of skulls on her breast. Her eyebrows consist of venomous female serpents. She has her blood-smeared tongue rolling out her mouth. The statue is essentially votive, but the artist's vision of the deity is as much aesthetic. The lofty crown provides a pleasing contrast. Her round face, sharp features, proportionate figure, amicably branched arms, fine long fingers, slim elegant figure, well-shaped eyes, befitting ornamentation and serenity on her face could as well be the features of Lakshmi, Psyche or Venus. The artist has skillfully packed in a single form the ever-conflicting elements - awe and beauty.
This description by Prof. P.C. Jain and Dr. Daljeet. Prof. Jain specializes in the aesthetics of literature and is the author of numerous books on Indian art and culture. Dr. Daljeet is the curator of the Miniature Painting Gallery, National Museum, New Delhi. They have both collaborated together on a number of books.
How to keep a Brass statue well-maintained?
Brass statues are known and appreciated for their exquisite beauty and luster. The brilliant bright gold appearance of Brass makes it appropriate for casting aesthetic statues and sculptures. Brass is a metal alloy composed mainly of copper and zinc. This chemical composition makes brass a highly durable and corrosion-resistant material. Due to these properties, Brass statues and sculptures can be kept both indoors as well as outdoors. They also last for many decades without losing all their natural shine.
Brass statues can withstand even harsh weather conditions very well due to their corrosion-resistance properties. However, maintaining the luster and natural beauty of brass statues is essential if you want to prolong their life and appearance.
In case you have a colored brass statue, you may apply mustard oil using a soft brush or clean cloth on the brass portion while for the colored portion of the statue, you may use coconut oil with a cotton cloth.
Brass idols of Hindu Gods and Goddesses are especially known for their intricate and detailed work of art. Nepalese sculptures are famous for small brass idols portraying Buddhist deities. These sculptures are beautified with gold gilding and inlay of precious or semi-precious stones. Religious brass statues can be kept at home altars. You can keep a decorative brass statue in your garden or roof to embellish the area and fill it with divinity.
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