Kali (Bhadrakali)

A robust bronze of the Mother Goddess Kali. She is holding in her hands a severed head, an axe, a serpent and a sword. Clockwise, starting from her lower right hand.

Kali is stepping on a human figure, possibly her husband Siva, lying on his side. Given the posture, lying on his right side with his right hand tucked under his head for support and his left hand stretched along his torso, one would think the person is alive.

Kali is wearing a crown, earrings, bangles, a waist belt and knee length lower garment. The garland appears to be a Mundamala, a garland of human skulls. Kali’s third eye is quite prominent.

The way the serpent could around her body, the plaited and decorated hair, the decoration of the side tassels (see the side view) and the detailed engraving merit attention. Definitely, she did get attention from the sculptor.

Despite the fearsome attributes, Mundamala and her stepping on a human, Kali retains poise, grace and benevolence. A true Mother Goddess.

Kali’s forms, based on the attributes, are several. In the book Devi The Great Goddess: Female divinity in South Asian Art Published by Arthur M Sackler Gallery, there are at least seven paintings of Bhadrakali. All with different attributes and their own Dhyana Slokas but with a corpse/human under her. It is quite likely this bronze is also a form of Bhadrakali, though none of the seven forms in that book matches this Vigraha.

The other possibility is this is a representation of Kali as one of the Mahavidhyas.

This Vigraha is from Eastern India, possibly the Bengal region. The Vigraha is about 23 cm in height and it is quite heavy. The Vigraha may not be older than 150 years or so.

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