Of all the entities in the Hindu pantheon, the Goddess Kali has the most famous iconography. Her portrayal is of a decidedly bloodthirsty goddess, replete with all the spiritual ingredients a devi needs to lord over Shiva-Vishnu-Brahma (the holy trinity) Itself. This oil painting by Anup Gomay depicts Her in Her superlative ferocity, floating in the heavens amidst the fiery rays of the setting sun that doubles as Her halo. The painting cuts down from beneath Her thighs, rendering it a partial image of the Goddess. As such, She seems to be standing within a lifelike, fluid body of lava.
The fervour of the fire that surrounds Her is matched by the stance of each of Her four arms. The right posterior arm weilds an enormous bloodied sickle, the thick dripping red giving away that She has just slayed an adharmee, that the blood is fresh on the blade. The left posterior hand grips the lifeless head of the demon Raktabeej, whose Sanskrit name translates to blood-seed. Raktabeej is arguably the most demonic of the asuras, invincible by virtue of the divinity in each drop of his blood that transforms into a full-blown demon the moment it touchs the earth. Hence, the left anterior hand of the Goddess holds a bowl beneath Raktabeej's bleeding head to collect the powerful blood of the demon. The Devi holds Her right anterior hand up in blessing to Her devotees.
The signature element of Her iconography, the mundmala (Sanskrit for 'cephalic garland') has been painted on Her with great skill, with each head frozen in death and dripping thickly with blood. It is in the ebbing lifeblood of adharmees that She has dipped Her nails and Her long tongue. A purple snake sits coiled around Her waist, who happens to be the very manifestation of Lord Shiva. A skirt of severed human arms, "arguably the earliest mini skirt in history", clothes Her thighs - an offering of karma by her numberless devotees, the karma they have done by hand. The visible part of Her body, the torso, is plump and ripe with fertility and bedecked with the resplendence of ample gold to match: chunky amulets and wristlets, and a thick kamarband, each studded with a plethora of rubies and emeralds. Numberless neckalces cover Her entire torso; some of gracious gold, one of miniscule bones, whist some reach down the entire length of Her torso to Her navel. Note the gorgeous sapphire pendant at the centre, the pearls of its chain strewn delicately atop her full breasts.
The glorious crown, secured along Her hairline with a string of pearls, completes the Goddess Kali's iconography. The glimmer of the embedded jewels on the paisleys puts the sun behind Her to shame. Wisps of luxuriant black tresses caress Her divinely youthful face, adding a touch of the feminine to Her overpowering ferocity. The rest of Her dense Stygian mane flares on both sides of Her, taking up the full horizontal scope of the painting. Her large ears, lengthened by the sheer weight of the thick gold hoops She is wearing, frame Her perfectly round face. Her eyes have the earthy glow of embers; whilst the third is yet shut, toned down by the artist with a subtle pastel tint on the lids. There is no denying the ennervating effect this painting will have on whoever sets eyes on it.
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