The Goddess Durga Battles Demons, Folio From A Manuscript Of The Durgasaptashati (Seven Hundred Couplets In Praise Of Durga)
© President and Fellows of Harvard College
Identification and Creation
Object Number
1995.64
People
Unknown Artist
Title
The Goddess Durga Battles Demons, folio from a manuscript of the Durgasaptashati (Seven Hundred Couplets in Praise of Durga)
Other Titles
Series/Book Title: Durgasaptashati
Classification
Manuscripts
Work Type
manuscript folio
Date
c. 1500
Places
Creation Place: South Asia, India, Western India
Culture
Indian
Physical Descriptions
Medium
Opaque watercolor on paper
Dimensions
8.8 x 17.5 cm (3 7/16 x 6 7/8 in.)
Aquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Gift in gratitude to John Coolidge, Gift of Leslie Cheek, Jr., Anonymous Fund in memory of Henry Berg, Louise Haskell Daly, Alpheus Hyatt, Richard Norton Memorial Funds and through the generosity of Albert H. Gordon and Emily Rauh Pulitzer; formerly in the collection of Stuart Cary Welch, Jr.
Accession Year
1995
Object Number
1995.64
Division
Asian and Mediterranean Art
Contact
am_asianmediterranean@harvard.edu
Descriptions

Label Text: Gods, Thrones, and Peacocks - Revisited: Northern Indian Miniatures from two Traditions, Fifteenth to Nineteenth Centuries, written 1990
The Durga
From a Durgashaptasati manuscript
Western Indian style, 15th century
Opaque watercolor on paper
Private collection
452.1983

Label Text: Indian Harvest: Part 1, written 1996
The Durga
From a Durgashaptasati manuscript.
Western India, 15th century.
Opaque watercolor on paper.
Purchase from Anonymous Fund in memory of Henry Berg , Henry George Berg Bequest, Leslie Cheek Jr., Louise Haskell Daly, Alpheus Hyatt, Richard Norton Memorial, and Eric Schroeder Funds and through the generosity of Albert H. Gordon and Emily Rauh Pulitzer.
1995.64

Label Text: Where Traditions Meet: Painting in India from the 15th-17th Centuries, written 2003
The Goddess Durga Battles Demons, folio from a manuscript of the Durgasaptashati
Western India, 15th century
Opaque watercolor on paper
Gift in gratitude to John Coolidge, gift of Leslie Cheek, Jr., Anonymous Fund in memory of Henry Berg, Louise Haskell Daly, Alpheus Hyatt, Richard Norton Memorial Funds and through the generosity of Albert H. Gordon and Emily Rauh Pulitzer, formerly in the collection of Stuart Cary Welch, Jr.
1995.64

In this illustration from the Durgasaptashati, a popular Sanskrit text devoted to Durga, the goddess is mounted on a tiger, her many arms holding various weapons and a severed head. She battles three demons mounted on horses.
Here we see that the Western Indian style is not restricted to Jain art. Although painted on paper, the picture retains the palm-leaf horizontal format originally found in works from the Pala dynasty (760-1142). Note the intense red background, flat composition, and faces in profile, all features observed in later Rajasthani art. The eye protruding from the hidden side of the face is typical of the Western Indian style, a relic of an earlier practice of representing faces in three-quarter profile. Drawn with a confident, expressive hand, this energetic picture may not be as sumptuous as the other examples of this style in the exhibition, yet even in its damaged state, it is equally arresting. -JM

Label Text: Recent Acquisitions in Islamic and Indian Art, written 2000
The Goddess Durga Battles Demons
Folio from a manuscript of the Durgasaptashati
(Seven Hundred Couplets in Praise of Durga)
Western India, 15th century
Opaque watercolor on paper
The Stuart Cary Welch Collection , Gift in gratitude to John Coolidge, Gift of Leslie Cheek, Jr., Anonymous Fund in memory of Henry Berg, Richard Norton Memorial , Louise Haskell Daly, Alpheus Hyatt Purchasing Funds, and through the generosity of Albert H. Gordon and Emily Rauh Pulitzer
1995.64

Label Text: India: From Tribe to Court, written 1981
The goddess Durga from a Durga-saptashati manuscript.
Western India, 1471
TL 17444.209 [draft]

Publication History

Stuart Cary Welch and Milo Cleveland Beach, Gods, Thrones, and Peacocks Northern Indian Painting from Two Traditions, exh. cat., Harry N. Abrams, Inc. (New York, NY, 1965), page 57/figure 1

Elizabeth Finch, ed., Rajasthani Miniatures: The Welch Collection from the Arthur M. Sackler Museum, exh. cat., The Drawing Center (New York, NY, 1997), page 12

Exhibition History

India: From Tribe to Court, Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, 01/01/1981 - 01/01/1981

Leaves From the Jungle, Harvard University Art Museums, Fogg Art Museum, Cambridge, 11/17/1984 - 01/06/1985

Gods, Thrones, and Peacocks - Revisited: Northern Indian Miniatures from two Traditions, Fifteenth to Nineteenth Centuries, Harvard University Art Museums, Cambridge, 03/31/1990 - 06/10/1990

Indian Harvest: Part 1, Harvard University Art Museums, Cambridge, 11/30/1995 - 01/21/1996

Rajasthani Miniatures: The Welch Collection at the Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Harvard University, The Drawing Center, New York, 04/16/1997 - 06/07/1997

Where Traditions Meet: Painting in India from the 15th-17th Centuries, Harvard University Art Museums, Cambridge, 06/05/2003 - 12/07/2003

Subjects and Contexts

Collection Highlights

Verification Level

3 - Good. Object is well described and information is vetted