Durga (Bengal)

This Durga (Mahishasuramardhini or Mardhini for short), just about 9.5 cm in height, is packed with features and design details. It is incredible.

For the background see Mahishasuramardhini from Deccan. This blog site also features several Mardhini Vigrahas covering a wide geographic region and time.

Here let me attempt to list some of the features of this Vigraha.

The ten-armed Mardhini is standing with her right leg on her vahana, a lion (see the lion’s tail on the base of the prabhavali), and her left leg is on Mahisha’s buffalo body. The asura is being pulled out of the buffalo’s body by Mardhini’s lower most left hand. Mahisha has a halo and is drawing his sword to fight. See the details in the enlarged picture on the right. The picture is from the seller. It is just one cm between the sword and the tip of his halo. Amazing craftmanship.

In front on her, on the right Ganesha is sitting on his Vahana, a rat, and Karthikeya is on her left sitting on his Vahana, a peacock. See the left view for the ‘eyes’ on the peacock’s plume. In Bengal, Mardhini/Durga, is considered a form of Uma, Siva’s consort. Hence the depiction of hers sons Ganesha and Karthikeya. Both Ganesha and Karthikeya are shown with four arms. In front of Mardhini, on the pedestal, is the severed head of buffalo.

The features to note in the Mardhini’s figure include the decorative undulations on her sword, the string on the bow (left side, second arm from the top), her earrings, her halo and the decorated shield, almost like a lotus, on her left top hand.

A prabhavali frames the scene and the prabhavali is topped by a two-tiered umbrella.

This Vigraha is, most likely, from the Bengal region. I have come across few other examples, dating to the 17-18th centuries from Bengal which are of similar size. This blog site has one other example of Mardhini from Bengal region of similar size but a much simpler one. As is typical of Vigrahas from the Bengal region the back is not worked on.

The delicate work, e.g. see Ganesha’s trunk reaching out to the sweets on his left lower arm, suggests this is not a simple cast bronze. It is possibly a jeweler’s piece. On the the cast work, a goldsmith would have used the techniques and tools used in making jewelry to create this delight.


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