Not as engaged in an act, eliminating an evil : a demon or a wrong, or in one of her manifest forms, the statue, essentially an image for a sanctum or a sacred space consecrated for votive ends, represents the goddess Durga in her absolute form, that is, the proto-model of all forms. She has been represented seated on her mount in absolute ease with her left leg lying down, while the right, placed horizontally on the left, or rather in the slanting position from right to left, a posture known in the iconographic tradition as ‘lalitasana’ – one that revealed beauty. Not by an act but by her mere presence the goddess ensures protection against every wrong. In initial texts she was perceived as three-aspected : ferocious, valorous and lovable or beautiful, manifesting as Kali, Durga and Parvati. Subsequently in the Devi’s worship-cult all three aspects merged into one Divine power often addressed as Durga. Besides representing these aspects Durga represented absolute womanhood giving her a new identity. Now she represented the absolute womanhood with absolute beauty and supreme valour, her aspects. It is this image of the Great Goddess that this marble statue represents, not one as enshrines early texts.
The eight-armed goddess has been conceived as carrying in right hands disc, sword and bow and arrow, the fourth, her normal right, is held in ‘abhaya’; in her left, she is carrying conch, mace and lotus; the fourth is placed on her thigh in ‘lalita-mudra’. A goddess in Shaivite line, she carries Vaishnava attributes, disc, conch, mace and lotus. The other two, sword and bow also are not linked to Shiva. This reflects the synthesis of two sectarian lines, the Vaishnava and Shaivite. The artist has taken special care in modeling her mount, its anatomy, body posture and expression of contentment on the face. Her lion symbolised her valorous aspect and her might, and the attributes of war that she carries, her ability to protect and, if needed, to destroy; however, she is not conceived as always engaged in action as is Kali or even Durga in her Mahishasura-Mardini like manifestation. With her greater breadth the lion-riding, and usually the eight-armed, Durga emerges in the devotional tradition as the most widely worshipped form of the Devi. Instead of representing just one aspect, this form of the goddess is multi-contextual.
The image of the goddess has been conceived with beautiful facial features, a rounded face, sharp nose, large wide open eyes, prominent cheeks and forehead and an elaborate neck. This effulgent form of the goddess sitting on her mount in full ease has been lavishly bejeweled. She is wearing an elegantly plaited crimson sari with elaborate border rendered in gold and an as luxuriantly gold-painted blouse. She is putting on her head a large magnificent crown inlaid with precious stones and a halo-like circular disc attached to it, her tresses lay beautifully covering her shoulders and back. She is putting on resplendent ornaments on her neck, breast, ears, nose, arms, wrists, feet and other parts. The statue has been installed on a variously painted three-layered marble slab.
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.