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The Goddess Matangi

Asian Art

In this painting, the many-armed goddess Durga rides in the center on her tiger, while her even fiercer incarnation, Matangi, is shown at the upper left holding a severed head and a sword. Along with Kali, they are among the ten fearsome forms of female divinity known as Mahavidyas. By picturing overlapping avatars, paintings such as this one indicate the fluid interrelation of a variety of goddess forms. This plurality also allows various social groups to identify with female divinity through their preferred avatar. For example, Matangi, a marginal figure in the pantheon, has often been associated with worship among lower castes.

MEDIUM Opaque watercolor, gold, and silver on paper
  • Place Made: Rajasthan, India
  • DATES ca. 1760
    DIMENSIONS sheet: 11 1/4 x 16 1/2 in. (28.6 x 41.9 cm) image: 10 1/2 x 15 7/8 in. (26.7 x 40.3 cm)  (show scale)
    INSCRIPTIONS Recto, at top, in Braj, in black ink, in Devanagari script: The fair, two-armed form of Sri Matangi ji. In one hand, the head of Mahesha, in [the other] hand, Mahesha's sword...(You are) blazing on your subjects, who bow to you. (Trans. S. Mitra); left, over image of goddess, in blace ink, in Devanagari script: Matangi.
    CREDIT LINE Anonymous gift
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
    CAPTION Indian. The Goddess Matangi, ca. 1760. Opaque watercolor, gold, and silver on paper, sheet: 11 1/4 x 16 1/2 in. (28.6 x 41.9 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Anonymous gift, 84.201.9 (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 84.201.9_IMLS_SL2.jpg)
    IMAGE overall, 84.201.9_IMLS_SL2.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
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