Folio from an illustrated manuscript of Devi Mahatmya
Illustrations 43; Folios 54
Western India, Surat
Samvat 1776 = 1719 CE
56.38 | Folio 32
The Devi Mahatmya of the Markandeya Purana (Adhyaya 81-93) is probably the most popular text copied and illustrated in almost all parts of India for religious merit as well as for reading and recitation. It contains the myth of the destruction of the all-powerful demon Mahisha and his retinue, by goddess Durga, the embodiment of the energies of all the gods.
The painting illustrates Brahmani, the shakti of Brahma, riding a canopied chariot, holding a sword and a noose in her upper hands while holding the reigns of her chariot with her lower right. Instead of a single swan as her mount, the artist has engaged a pair to draw her chariot. The Devanagari inscription on top reads as “Bhavani”.