Indian and Himalayan Art
The Great Goddess as Ishwari, with BhadragauraMade in Rajasthan, India, Asia
Probably made in Junia, Rajasthan, India, Asia
Artist/maker unknown, India
Opaque watercolor, gold, and silver-colored paint on paper
Currently not on view
2004-149-50125th Anniversary Acquisition. Alvin O. Bellak Collection, 2004
LabelThe goddess Durga's vahana (vehicle) is usually depicted as a great cat, but just what kind of cat is often unclear. Ancient texts sometimes call it a lion, sometimes a tiger, and sometimes a more imaginary creature. In this painting there is even more ambiguity-the great cat has the thick, striped body of a tiger; the tufted tail, short mane, face shape, and color of an Asiatic lion; and the facial "tear-lines" of a cheetah (now extinct in India but once common and used as a royal hunting animal). The inscription at the top of this painting labels Durga as Ishwari (Sanskrit for a powerful female being) and identifies the dwarflike figure as Bhadragaura, a rare form of the god Shiva.