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This 12th century icon of the goddess Durga, made by Pala-Sena dynasty artists, comes from current-day Bangladesh. Pala-Sena artists created many renowned bronze sculptures. The majority of them depicted Hindu gods, the Buddha, or bodhisattvas. The goddess Durga is a ferocious embodiment of Parvati, Shiva’s consort. Here, Durga is Mahishasuramardini, the slayer of the asura, or demon buffalo Mahishasura. When the male gods failed to kill Mahishasura, they lent her their weapons and she succeeded. Devotees particularly in Bengal and eastern India celebrate this occasion annually as Durga Puja. Some current-day Dalit and Adivasi (tribal/Indigenous) South Asian people consider Mahishasura a god or ancestor, and view Durga as a symbol of upper-caste dominance. This ten-armed copper version of the icon shows Durga wielding the weapons and attributes of her fellow gods. Those include a conch, sword, and shield. Durga stands triumphantly over the asura. She wears protective bands on her wrists.

Metropolitan Museum of Art Object Description


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