Posted on: 13 October 2013

Gouache painting on paper from a portfolio of sixty-three paintings of deities and daily life. Durgā, of green complexion and with eight arms, rides on her vehicle. Although the body of the animal is similar to that of a large feline, its head with round, bulging eyes, beak-like nose, curly ruffle and a surprising elegantly drawn creeper issuing from its mouth, is more similar to a yali (leogryph) than to a lion or tiger. Its strong, lithe body is elegantly caparisoned and adorned with collars, necklaces and a variety of ornaments. The goddess sits in lalitasana on its back. Her main pair of hands carries a trishula (trident). In her right hands she has a small trishula, a spear and a sword; in her left hands are damaru (hourglass shaped drum), kattar (dagger) and knife. Two small fangs protrude from her mouth, and tongues of fire emanate from her head and shoulders. The goddess wears a sari, blouse and the usual jewellery.

Company School
1820 (circa)
Tamil Nadu

© Trustees of the British Museum

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DURGA on Lion back, Company School early 18th century painting,

Green Tara is One of Durga's most dynamic manifestation. Her color symbolizes youthful vigor and activity. Green Tara is a goddess of action. She is often depicted in a posture of ease with right leg extended, signifying her readiness to spring into action. The left leg is folded in the contemplative position. She is also heavily used in Buddhism.