Durga, seated, with sixteen arms

Accession Number

Durga, seated, with sixteen arms


Artist Nationality
Indian (South Asian)

Object Creation Date
18th century

Medium & Support

5 1/16 in x 6 in x 2 9/16 in (12.9 cm x 15.2 cm x 6.5 cm);5 1/16 in x 6 in x 2 9/16 in (12.9 cm x 15.2 cm x 6.5 cm)

Credit Line
Gift of Dr. and Mrs. Leo S. Figiel and Dr. and Mrs. Steven J. Figiel

Label copy
March 28, 2009
The rituals surrounding goddess worship in India vary widely. At temples in the southern state of Tamil Nadu, an image of the goddess receives an orthodox form of Hindu worship: each morning, she is bathed and adorned, offered rice and lentils, and honored by waving lamps, lighting incense, and singing devotional hymns. This small bronze figure of Durga was probably made for worship in a home shrine, where it would have been honored in a less formalized manner. Her breasts have been polished to a shine by devotees, who probably also anointed the figure with butter and aromatic pastes.
(Label for UMMA South and Southeast Asia Gallery Opening Rotation, March 2009)

Subject matter
Durga is a common name for the Goddess. She has a large following in Hinduism and often the title Durga is an umbrella name covering a wide assortment of goddesses. The fact that she has so many arms suggests this collective identity. It relates to stories told in the Devimahatmya, part of a larger work, which tells how the gods could not beat particular demons and it is only when the goddess was created and imbued with the individual powers of all of the gods that the demons could be vanquished. Consequently she holds weapons associated with a number of the gods.

Physical Description
Durga sits with her legs in a half lotus position, crossed in front of her, but not interlaced. She has a narrow waist and rounded pointy breasts with broad shoulders. Her front two hands hold a rosary (also in a reassuring gesture) and a pot. Her other hands fan out around her. Reading clockwise, she carries a wide assortment of weapons, an arrow, sword, feather, club, discus, trident and [?] on her right and conch, bell, noose, trident, club?, shield, bow and a kapala (skull cup). She has large open eyes and a full mouth and nose. She wears jewelry including necklaces and shoulder loops, armlets, bracelets and large floral earrings. Her crown rest atop her head, but there are wing-like elements that fan out behind her ears. She sits on a squared base with stylized lotus petals over simpler moldings.

Primary Object Classification

Primary Object Type

Additional Object Classification(s)
Ritual Object

Collection Area

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bells (idiophones)
clubs (weapons)
feather (material)
flower (motif)

2 Related Resources

Hindu Gods and Goddesses
(Part of 6 Learning Collections)
Indian Metalwork
(Part of: Design)

& Author Notes

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