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