Samuel Eilenberg Collection, Gift of Samuel Eilenberg, in honor of Steven Kossak, 1987
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 234
This miniature figure is among the earliest known representations in metal of a goddess with weapons radiating from her hair. The style suggests she was made in the Ganges basin region of northern India—probably at the ancient Magadha capital of Pataliputra (Patna)—and attests to this region being instrumental in the development of this iconography. About the early fifth century, the fully elaborated form of the goddess Durga appears, first in a rock-cut depiction at Udayagiri, displaying the same weapons. While the precise identity of our figure is unknown, she is clearly part of an emerging protector goddess tradition.