The eight-armed lion-riding goddess, despite that in some of her hands she is carrying Vaishnava attributes, is a goddess in Shaivite line, more likely Devi in her primordial form conceived with powers and attributes of all gods, the feminine counterpart of Shiva. Not so much in the attributes which she is carrying in her hands, a trident, bow, noose, a dagger-like object, or a book, and a gesture of 'abhaya' besides the pure Vaishnava attributes disc, lotus and mace, her Shaivite links reveal, and quite decisively, in her mount lion and the flames of fire behind her head forming a halo for her. While lion is her own attribute, flames are Shiva's. She has on her forehead not merely the 'tripunda', the Shaivite mark comprising three horizontal lines, but also 'tri-netra' - third eye, Shiva's distinction that she shares with him as his consort.
The Devi image has been installed in a 'prabhavali' - fire-arch, which consists of three parts, a circular middle with outer ring comprising stylised lotuses, and inner and central rings, beads and foliage, the base, a pair of artistically moulded half columns between which is poised Devi's lion, and the top, a 'kirtimukha', the symbol of auspiciousness or the face of glory, as it is sometimes called. The 'kirtimukha' is one of the most artistically conceived parts of this wood-statue. 'Kirtimukha' is often contended to be a pre-Vedic motif. It was initially conceived like a mask. Incidentally, the 'kirtimukha' part in the 'prabhavali', with large massive whiskers unfurling on either side, looks like a mask, perhaps as it was initially conceived.
The goddess has been conceived as putting on a headdress much like a towering Vaishnava crown; however it has in its forepart a motif which looks like flames. Apart, the crown is contained within flames framing it from outside. The figure of the goddess has been conceived with sharp features, narrow pointed nose, arched eye-brows, an elongated angular face, curved lips with mild smile floating on them, thoughtful eyes, and a broader breast-space between the neck and breasts. In the statue breasts seem to have descended a little lower than their usual level. A beautifully subdued belly defines her middle part. She is wearing an elegantly plaited 'antariya' and is seated in 'lalitasana', the right leg suspending down to the pedestal, while the left, lying horizontally on the lion's back in semi-yogasana posture.
This description by Prof. P.C. Jain and Dr. Daljeet. Prof. Jain specializes on the aesthetics of literature and is the author of numerous books on Indian art and culture. Dr. Daljeet is the curator of the Miniature Painting Gallery, National Museum, New Delhi. They have both collaborated together on a number of books.