The Goddess Durga Victorious over the Buffalo Demon, Mahisha (Mahishasuramardini)
Central Javanese period
Volcanic stone (Andesite)
60 1/32 in. (152.5 cm)
Purchase, Friends of Asian Art Gifts, Mr. and Mrs. Donald Bruckmann, Mr. and Mrs. Perry J. Lewis, and Anonymous Gifts, 1988
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 247
Representations of the goddess Durga killing the buffalo demon are celebrated throughout India. Transmitted to Southeast Asia, the theme appears in Indonesian art and in the early sculpture of Thailand and Cambodia. When the gods were defeated by the lord of the demons, Mahisha, they pleaded with Durga, the incarnation of female energy, to defend the universe. Having been given a weapon by each of the gods and thus possessing all of their powers, she defeated first the demon's armies and then Mahisha himself, who had taken the form of a buffalo. In this sculpture, Durga stands on the corpse of the vanquished beast. The demon, having already left it, kneels behind its head and prays to the goddess for mercy. Despite the loss of the heads of Durga and the demon and the partial restoration of the breasts, this unusually large sculpture remains one of the most imposing images of this theme.