This is Saraswati, identified by Vina (a lute) in her front hand and Pustaka in her left rear hand. The rear right hand would have held Akshamala, now missing. Her Vahana, a peacock, is another story.

Saraswati is also known as Vac, the Goddess of Knowledge, learning, speech, poetry and music. In Vedic times Saraswati was associated with the river Saraswati and speech. Over time, the association with speech, learning, music, and culture has come to prominence. That association shows in her attributes: the Pustaka associated with learning, the Vina (lute) with arts and Akshamala with spiritual sciences.

Saraswati is associated with Bramha as his wife and sometimes as his daughter. In Bengal tradition, Saraswati is associated with Vishnu as his consort, along with Lakshmi. In some traditions, Saraswati is associated with Krishna.

Saraswati’s Vahana includes Hamsa (Swan), peacock (as in here), a parrot and the heron (Bhagala). Quite a few miniature paintings portray Saraswati riding a Bhagala.

The Vigraha’s construction is similar to the more popular Khandobha, sitting astride on her Vahana and with a peg for keeping her in place.

This Vigraha is about 27 cm in height and it is from Maharashtra. It may be dated to the nineteenth century. Plate 45 in the book The Hindu Pantheon by Edward Moor, 1810 shows two paintings of Saraswati in a similar posture.


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