Mother Goddess (Matrika)
mid- 6th century
India (Rajasthan, Tanesara)
H. 24 1/2 in. (62.2 cm)
Gift of Florence and Herbert Irving, 1993
This figure is one of a group of seven mother goddesses that sprang from an associated Hindu male god. Despite their alluring beauty, these matrikas represent dangerous and malevolent forces—the devourers of children and bearers of sickness and disease. Although they were integral to early temple iconographic schema, as seen at sixth-century Aihole, their power was so threatening that they were soon marginalized, consigned to dedicated shrines beyond city boundaries. The combined power of the matrikas is understood to be embodied in the mother goddess par excellence, Durga.