An image of The Seven Mother Goddesses (Saptamatrika)

Unknown Artist

The Seven Mother Goddesses (Saptamatrika)

Other titles:
Hindu Deities, Shiva and the Matrkas
Location
Upper Asian gallery
Further information

In Puranic literature, the Seven Mothers (Saptamatrikas) emerge to aid Shiva in his battle against the formidable demon, Andhaka. According to the legend, Shiva strikes Andhaka; but with each drop of blood that falls from the wound, a replica of the demon arises. Seeing Shiva faced with thousands of Andhakas, the other male gods send their ‘shaktis’, in the form of the Seven Mothers, to stop the blood from falling to the ground and prevent the multiplication. With the help of the ‘matrikas’, Shiva overcomes his foe. In the famed ‘Devi Mahatmya’, the Saptamatrikas again perform a similar function and help Durga vanquish the demon Raktabija (see cat. 67).

The stele shows Shiva, seated on the far left, accompanied by the Seven Mothers. From left to right, the goddesses are Brahmani, who emerges from the god Brahma; Maheshvari, who emanates from Shiva; Kaumari, the counterpart of the warrior god, Kumara; Vaishnavi, the female energy of Vishnu; Varahi, the partner of Varaha, the boar incarnation of Vishnu; Indrani, the ‘shakti’ of Indra; and the fierce, skeletal personification of energy, Chamunda. The panel’s intricate carving and richly embellished figures are stylistically typical of Hoysala period sculpture.

Chaya Chandrasekhar, ‘Goddess: divine energy’, AGNSW 2006, pg.108.

Place of origin
Karnataka, India
Period
India: Hoysala period circa 1022–1346
Year
12th century-13th century
Media
Sculpture
Medium
black chlorite schist
Dimensions
40.5 x 98.0 x 18.5 cm
Signature & date
Not signed. Not dated.
Credit
Gift of Sir James Plimsoll 1978
Accession number
6.1978