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The Goddess Bhairavi Devi with Shiva

Attributed to Payag (Indian, active ca. 1591–1658)

Object Name:
Illustrated album leaf
Date:
ca. 1630–35
Geography:
India
Culture:
Islamic
Medium:
Opaque watercolor and gold on paper
Dimensions:
H. 7 1/4 in. (18.5 cm) W. 10 3/8 in. (26.5 cm)
Classification:
Codices
Credit Line:
Purchase, Lila Acheson Wallace Gift, 2011
Accession Number:
2011.409
  • Description

    In this painting attributed to the Muslim artist Payag, a demonic form of the Hindu goddess Bhairavi, female counterpart to Shiva, sits on the body of a decomposing corpse. Wearing jewelry and a skirt made of skulls, and horns emerging from her head, she is accompanied by Shiva who appears in the form of a devotee. Three of her hands carry symbols of destruction, while her fourth extends a gesture of blessing. The borders, added at a later date and executed in siyah qalam (gold monochrome), form a continuation of the desolate landscape in the painting itself. The inscription above the image, written in Devanagari, identifies Bhairavi. Mughal artists frequently depicted scenes from the Hindu tradition, as Shah Jahan and his predecessors were interested in the religion due to its historical significance and the large number of Hindu subjects under their rule.

  • Provenance

    Reportedly Royal Mewar collection, India; [ Spink & Son Ltd., London, ca. 1985–87; cat., 1987, no. 16, sold to Welch]; Stuart Cary Welch, Cambridge, MA (1987–d. 2008; his heirs 2008–11); his sale, Sotheby's, London, May 31, 2011, lot 5, to MMA

  • See also
    Who
    What
    Where
    When
    In the Museum
    Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History
    MetPublications
457743

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