, Trident with Auspicious Kali [Bhadrakali] Enlarge 1 /3
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Chola dynasty (9th-13th centuries) India
Trident with Auspicious Kali [Bhadrakali] 11th century Place made: Tamil Nadu, India
Materials & Technique: sculptures, bronze; lost-wax casting
Dimensions: 46.0 h x 29.0 w x 16.6 d cm
Acknowledgement: Purchased 2006
Accession No: NGA 2006.300
  • The supplied chain of ownership for this object is being reviewed and further research is underway. The provenance information listed has been substantiated by documentation. Details may be refined and updated as research progresses. (updated 2016)
  • with art dealer Maharukh Desai, London, 1993 or before
  • who sold it to Willard Clark, USA, 1993
  • with art dealership Carlton Rochell Ltd, New York, 2006 or before
  • which sold it to the National Gallery of Australia, Canberra, 2006

The formidable Hindu goddess Bhadrakali, Auspicious Kali, is seated in front of a trident, the prongs of which represent purity, activity and lethargy. Bhadrakali is a divine female counterpart [shakti] of the god Shiva, and one of the many manifestations, creative and destructive, of the Great Goddess Devi. Wielded by the goddess in cosmic conflict, the trident is also used by Shiva to free souls from burden.

Bhadrakali’s ferocious and supernatural qualities are emphasised by her fangs and four arms. One hand is raised in a gesture of protection and reassurance while the others hold a noose, a trident and a bowl made from a human skull. Used in ceremony and temple processions, the sculpture is slightly worn from ritual bathing and anointing, with milk, honey and ghee, by Hindu priests.

Text © National Gallery of Australia, Canberra 2011
From: Asian gallery extended display label