Thus, not a disembodied divine authority or concept that the believing
mind nurtures, Durga is perceived as a dynamic presence – a militant
goddess, with a form, and in an act vanquishing the dark and
everything adverse to life and protecting good and righteous.
Obviously, even as votive, this form of her image is largely uncommon.
As has almost rigidified in mind, this eighteen-armed lion-seated form
of Durga represents on one hand rare feminine beauty and imperishable
youth, and on the other, as one who carries in her hands various
instruments of war and on her face the determination to avenge her
devotee’s tormenter and punish a wrong-doer. Rarer is the unique
quiescence that reflects on her face and her confidence as if triumph
is the foregone conclusion of all her battles against evil.
Using astonishing skill the artist has created rhythmic vibrancy in
conceiving as many as eighteen arms on one torso, which could
otherwise be quite odd and cumbersome. He has transformed her usual
golden complexion into the light blue, perhaps to match flowing
water’s ripples or to reflect clouds’ form, which her arms seem to
transform into and create a rhythm. The artist has conceived her form
as stationary, and the weapons she is carrying as mere attributes
characteristic to her form, perhaps not for immediate use for
otherwise she would not hold both bow and arrow on one and the same
side, and sword and shield, on the other. In her right side hands she
is carrying noose, mace – an elongated and heavier one, lotus, bowl,
‘parashu’ – axe, shield, sword, ‘kamandala’ – water-pot with handle
and spout, and staff. On her left, she is holding disc, trident,
conch, spear, rod with a jagged edge, arrow, bow, triple-bladed
trident and bell. The arrow in her hand apart, she also has on her
back a gold-quiver full of venomous arrows.
The goddess is seated on her mount lion with each of her legs
suspending on either side. The lion is in stationary position, though
fully enthused is also ready to gallop and charge. The goddess has on
her face absolute composure though not without a sense of concern. She
has an elongated face with receding chin, sharp nose, thoughtful eyes,
arched eye-brows, broad forehead, small well-shaped lips and a longer
neck. Elegantly modeled she has a tall slim figure with fine long
fingers and lotus-palms. She is putting on a majestic Vaishnava crown
with a pair of framing rings, gold-bangles, necklaces, armlets, foot
and finger ornaments, all embedded with rubies, emeralds and other
precious stones, besides a garland of lotus-buds. Her face radiates
into rings of light which halo-like frame her face.
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.
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