The Great Goddess appears in many different forms. This sculpture depicts her as the beautiful and voluptuous yet fierce Durga Mahishasurmardini, the Slayer of the Buffalo Demon. Durga was created to destroy the powerful buffalo demon, Mahishasura, who threatened the cosmic order. Unable to defeat Mahishasura individually, the male Hindu gods combined to fashion Durga from parts of their own bodies and empowered her with their weapons. Here she holds the trident of Shiva in one hand and Vishnu's discus in another.
Riding a lion, Durga appears in a threatening pose with tongue extended, wearing a necklace of human skulls. She brandishes the sword of Kala, God of Time, with which she conquers the demon. She grasps its human head as it emerges from the decapitated corpse of the buffalo.
Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 2011
From: Asian gallery extended display label