Mahasura Attacks the Devi, Folio from a Dispersed Devi Mahatmya Series
This painting comes from a series illustrating the Devi Mahatmya, a text celebrating the deeds of the goddess Durga. In Hindu tradition, the greatest warrior deities are goddesses. Some of the warrior goddesses are beautiful, and others are hideous and frightening, but all are very strong and celibate. The goddess Durga was created specifically for the purpose of fighting demons; each of the male gods gave her one aspect of his power. She is usually shown with multiple arms—each of them holding a weapon donated by a male god—riding on a ferocious lion or tiger. She is lovely, but she uses her beauty to disarm her demon enemies, some of whom become smitten with her.
This painting shows a pivotal battle between Durga and a powerful demon named Mahasura. The demon, with an animal head and purple skin, appears three times, attacking the goddess with bow and arrow, sword and shield, and trident (this weapon is shown snapped in two, a sign that he will eventually lose). This repetition of the figure suggests that he exerted enormous energy in attempting to assault the goddess from every direction, while her single figure indicates that she barely needed to move to gain the upper hand.
Opaque watercolor on paper
sheet: 7 7/8 x 11 5/8 in. (20.0 x 29.5 cm)
Image: 6 3/4 x 10 1/2 in. (17.1 x 26.7 cm.) (show scale)
Inscription on reverse: Beholding the descending shula (missile) Devi released her shula, which becoming hundred fold, brought the great asura (Mahasura) to subjugation (S. Mitra)
Recto, at top in yellow margin, in Devanagari script: 13
This item is not on view
Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Robert L. Poster
No known copyright restrictions
This work may be in the public domain in the United States. Works created by United States and non-United States nationals published prior to 1923 are in the public domain, subject to the terms of any applicable treaty or agreement.
You may download and use Brooklyn Museum images of this work. Please include caption information from this page and credit the Brooklyn Museum. If you need a high resolution file, please fill out our online application form
The Museum does not warrant that the use of this work will not infringe on the rights of third parties, such as artists or artists' heirs holding the rights to the work. It is your responsibility to determine and satisfy copyright or other use restrictions before copying, transmitting, or making other use of protected items beyond that allowed by "fair use," as such term is understood under the United States Copyright Act.
The Brooklyn Museum makes no representations or warranties with respect to the application or terms of any international agreement governing copyright protection in the United States for works created by foreign nationals.
For further information about copyright, we recommend resources at the United States Library of Congress
, Cornell University
, Copyright and Cultural Institutions: Guidelines for U.S. Libraries, Archives, and Museums
, and Copyright Watch
For more information about the Museum's rights project, including how rights types are assigned, please see our blog posts on copyright
If you have any information regarding this work and rights to it, please contact email@example.com
Indian. Mahasura Attacks the Devi, Folio from a Dispersed Devi Mahatmya Series, ca. 1770-1780. Opaque watercolor on paper, sheet: 7 7/8 x 11 5/8 in. (20.0 x 29.5 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Robert L. Poster, 85.220.2 (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 85.220.2_IMLS_PS4.jpg)
overall, 85.220.2_IMLS_PS4.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2010
"CUR" at the beginning of an image file name means that the image was created by a curatorial staff member. These study images may be digital point-and-shoot photographs, when we don\'t yet have high-quality studio photography, or they may be scans of older negatives, slides, or photographic prints, providing historical documentation of the object.
Not every record you will find here is complete. More information is available for some works than for others, and some entries have been updated more recently. Records are frequently reviewed and revised, and we welcome
any additional information you might have.