Mahadevi, the Great Goddess
India (Rajasthan, Bikaner)
Ink, opaque watercolor, and silver on paper
Image: 21 1/2 x 11 1/2 in. (54.6 x 29.2 cm)
Fletcher Fund, 1996
Not on view
In this twenty-armed form, Mahadevi holds an array of weapons affiliating her with all the male gods, an iconography associated with Durga, the natural opponent of the buffalo demon Mahisha. Here, she is Devi as the protector deity of the ruling household of Bikaner, Rajasthan; the red third eye and the crescent moon in her hair affirm her affiliation with Shiva. Devi appears to be dancing but is actually assuming a warrior’s combatant stance, appropriate to the mood evoked by her arsenal of weapons. She stands on a lotus flower, the traditional iconographic "throne" of Indian deities, denoting purity and sanctity.