Chhatrapati Shivaji Maharaj Vastu Sangrahalaya

(Formerly Prince of Wales Museum of Western India)


Mahishasuramardini

Basalt
Elephanta
Maharashtra
Mid 6th Century A.D.
116 x 37 cms.

Object of the month - October 2014
This is a fragment of what must have been a magnificent image of Mahishasuramardini. In the mythological story, the witty demon Mahisha troubled the Gods endlessly until Goddess Durga came to their help.

She killed the demon Mahisha (who in the form of a buffalo) and therefore is known as ‘Mahishasuramardini’ – one who killed the buffalo demon. This sculpture is from the nearby Elephanta caves. It is overpowering with its strength and vigour. The artist has vividly captured the forceful attack of the goddess on the buffalo demon and depicts his agony, as he turns his head up in deadly action.

The tail of the buffalo is curled as it happens with the cattle in times of anxiety. The goddess has her foot on the back of the buffalo demon completely subjugating him. Even though the upper part of the sculpture is lost, the modeling of the solid mass of the body of the buffalo, the firm, strong legs of the goddess, and vivid depiction of her act of killing, suggest the work of a great artist.

Elephanta is an island located about 12 kms. away from this Museum. The cave structures are decorated with grand and marvelous stone sculptures. Though many of these sculptures are mutilated, their sizes as well as quality of workmanship testify to their importance as sculptures from Western India.