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From a Markandeya Purana, a Devi Mahatmya folio. Devi in the form of Durga with army in battle with Mahishasura and his army of asuras (demons). Bengal, circa 1800. Opaque watercolour on wasli. 16.9 x 27.4cm
Using continuous narrative the artist has shown Mahishasura twice. According to the narrative the first appearance is as the buffalo demon seen in the position below the Devi's left foot, being attacked by Durga's tiger varaha (mount). His second appearance is grasping a shield and mace where he can be seen to our right of the Devi in the form of a turban-clad human head and jama-wearing torso atop the body of the (demon) buffalo. In the melee surrounding them are asuras with horned heads battling devis (goddesses) as they slaughter animals. On the lower right edge of the painting a group of devis forming a line enter the battle flanked by a sringa (battle-horn) blowing human male, his asura conterpart diagonally above in the upper left of the picture.
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Images and text © Peter Blohm