Cambodian / Durga as the Slayer of the Buffalo-Demon (Durga Mahishasuramardini) / pre-Angkor period, 7th centuryCambodian
Durga as the Slayer of the Buffalo-Demon (Durga Mahishasuramardini)
pre-Angkor period, 7th century

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Creator Nationality: Asian; Southeast Asian; Cambodian
Creator Name-CRT: Cambodian
Title: Durga as the Slayer of the Buffalo-Demon (Durga Mahishasuramardini)
View: Full View
Creation Start Date: 600
Creation End Date: 699
Creation Date: pre-Angkor period, 7th century
Creation Place: Cambodia
Object Type: Sculpture
Materials and Techniques: sandstone
Dimensions: H. 15 in. (38.1 cm)
AMICA Contributor: Asia Society
Owner Location: New York, New York, USA
ID Number: 1979.061
Credit Line: Asia Society: The Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection
Context: The diversity of style and iconography in sculptures produced in mainland Southeast Asia from the 6th through 9th centuries reflects the many regional cultures then thriving in that part of the world. In general, two systems of classification are used to help define the regional styles found here: one relies on political terms such as "Dvaravati" and "pre-Angkor," while the more recent system groups by language and/or ethnic types such as Mon and Khmer. This sculpture of the Hindu goddess Durga is an example of the Khmer-style sculptures carved in Cambodia during the 7th century. Durga's face is rectangular and the flesh on her cheeks is smooth and taut. Her eyes, nose, and mouth are broad and full and they have been carefully delineated. She wears a tall, unadorned crown, and a long garment that outlines her hips and thighs is tied together at the front. Thin lines have been incised into the surface of this garment to indicate pleats. Durga's frontal and upright posture and squat, powerful physique are typical of Khmer-style sculptures. The use of the mandorla to support the sculpture is also characteristic. Such support can be necessary when stone sculptures are fully carved in the round. The sense of musculature in this image, the interest in the taut surfaces of her skin, and the sketchy depiction of her drapery also relate this figure both to Buddhist sculptures from the area around Prakhon Chai and later Hindu works produced under the rule of the Khmer empire.

Durga is one of the more powerful forms taken by the Hindu goddess Parvati. In this sculpture, Durga is shown vanquishing the buffalo-demon Mahisha (Durga Mahishasuramardini). Mahisha, who had achieved great powers through the practice of austerities and was tormenting the world, could not be stopped by Shiva, Vishnu, or any of the other Hindu gods. In order to defeat him, the other gods lent their powers to Durga to augment her own. After a fierce battle, she subdued Mahisha and saved the world; her defeat of the demon is indicated by the head of the bull upon which she stands. Durga's assumption of Vishnu's powers is shown by his attributes which she holds in her hands: the conch shell, the wheel, and the ball symbolizing the earth. Vishnu's club is below her missing lower left hand.

Related Document Description: Asia Society. Handbook of the Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection. New York: Asia Society, [1981], p. 31.
Related Document Description: Lee, Sherman E. Asian Art: Selections from the Collection of Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd--Part II. New York: Asia Society, 1975, pp. 26, 27, 33.
Related Document Description: Mowry, Robert D. 'An Image of Maitreya and Other Pre-Angkor Prakhonchai Bronzes.' Orientations (December 1985), pp. 33-41.
Related Document Description: Young, Mahonri Sharp. 'Letter from the U.S.A.: The Second Seventy.' Apollo (February 1975), pp. 136-37, 139.
AMICA ID: ASIA.1979.061
AMICA Library Year: 1998
Media Metadata Rights: Copyright, Asia Society

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