An image of Durga slaying the buffalo demon Mahisha (Mahishasuramardini)

Unknown Artist

Durga slaying the buffalo demon Mahisha (Mahishasuramardini)

Other titles:
Durga slaying the titan Mahisha
Not on display
Further information

According to mythology, the titan ('asura') Mahisha gained such enormous power through the performance of penance that he threatened the stability of the world. The gods, becoming increasingly helpless against him, begged assistance from the goddess Durga and armed her with their combined energies, weapons and powers. Thus empowered, Durga attacked and vanquished the buffalo-headed 'asura'. In this impressive, early representation, Durga attacks Mahisha and with one foot on his neck spears his bovine body with her trident. Durga’s lion mount ('vahana') aids her by attacking Mahisha’s haunches. The goddess, beautiful and serene, maintains an almost detached calm that belies the enormous drama and significance of her triumph. Although the goddess appears as an invincible Amazonian warrior, to her worshippers Durga is a maternal deity, a mother-goddess and protector of her devotees.

The Asian Collections, AGNSW, 2003, pg. 22.

Place of origin
Rajasthan, India
Cultural origin
probably Uttar Pradesh or Rajasthan
early 10th century
red sandstone
140.0 x 63.5 x 25.0 cm
Signature & date

Not signed. Not dated.

Purchased with funds provided by the Art Gallery Society of New South Wales 1999
Accession number
Nancy Wiener Gallery, pre 1999, New York/United States of America