Description Kali, a fierce form of the Great Goddess of the Hindu traditions, stands over the body of the god Shiva, who, despite his open eyes and ithyphallic state, doubles as a corpse ("shava") on a burning funeral pyre. Kali’s association with cremation grounds and her ornaments of severed heads, severed arms, and corpses are reminders of life’s impermanence and the goddess’s power over time ("kala"). The sword points to her destructive capacity, and when slaying demons, she uses her lolling tongue to lap up their blood. Kali is at once fearsome and nurturing to her devotees, and with the gestures of her two right hands, she offers them generosity and reassurance.
- Desire and Devotion: Art from India, Nepal, and Tibet in the John and Berthe Ford Collection. The Walters Art Museum, Baltimore; Santa Barbara Museum of Art, Santa Barbara; Albuquerque Museum, Albuquerque; Birmingham Museum of Art, Birmingham; Hong Kong Museum of Art, Hong Kong. 2001-2003.
- Goddess Divine Energy. Art Gallery of New South Wales, Sydney. 2006-2007.
Provenance John and Berthe Ford, Baltimore [date and mode of acquisition unknown]; Walters Art Museum, 2001, by gift.
Credit Gift of John and Berthe Ford, 2001
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