Goddess on elephant

Normally the questions I ask when I see a Vigraha is who, when and where. The ‘who’ part of this Vigraha is yet to be answered with certainty.

Here we see a Goddess sitting on an elephant. Her hands are stretched out as if welcoming her devotees. The Howdah is well decorated. The Vigraha is about 10 cm in height.

The perforated base and the Moon and Sun or Kalasa on the elephant suggest this Vigraha is from Nepal. The photo shows an example of Devi riding an elephant with the Moon and Sun or Kalasa symbol. It is at the entrance of Boudhanath stupa, Kathmandu. Photo courtesy: https://albinger.me/2015/05/29/the-boudhanath-stupa-the-heart-of-nepals-tibetan-community/

There are several examples of Goddess riding an elephant including a Gajalakshmi in my collection, folk Deity from Bihar (see the photo), Danteshwari, Durga (Bengal tradition of Durga arriving on an elephant during Dasara celebrations) and Bengal tradition of worshipping Lakshmi on an elephant. The example of folk Devi on an elephant (from Gorakpur, Bihar) and was published in the book The Everyday Art of India 1968 by Robert Bussbarger and Betty Robins.

As the Vigraha is from Nepal, the identity of the Devi is far from certain.

The Vigraha possibly dates to the 1850-1950 period. Not an antique but a great example of the folk expression of devotion.


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