This is a sculpture representing the goddess Kali, made of bas alt stone around the 15th century and now part of the collections of oriental art of the Museum Guimet in Paris.
Kali is a very important goddess inTantric Hinduismwhere she is the personification of the power to overcome and transcend suffering, capable of transforming the worst evil into something good. That is her explanation for her physical appearance in which we generally see her with a decrepit air, with fangs still bloody, wearing skull ornaments and in quite violent movements and attitudes. The most traditional iconography of Kali is usually based on these elements.
But in this sculpture made in Vijayanagar, between southern and central India, we don't see any of that, and the truth is that it is a very different representation. Here Kali is in physical prime, and although her attitude is distant from her, she in no way conveys a sense of terror to whoever beholds her. On the contrary, it is like a representation of energy where we see attributes that explain the image to us. In her right hand she carries the drum, a symbol of vital rhythm. While on the left she carries fire, or what is the same, destruction and death. That is to say, she poses that duality between life and death, since the goddess dominates both, always with the objective that in each reincarnation something arises.much purer.
The art of the Vijayanagar empire is characterized by the use of eclectic elements such as those seen here. Hence, in images like this, even if they are cult, everything is softened in favor of princely attributes. Everything is sweetened, even the boy who is stamping with his right foot is much sweeter than other representations of the same goddess.
So far regarding the iconographic spirit of the work, but on the other hand we must appreciate the mastery of its creator. A true artist capable of working with exquisite detail a stone like bas alt, where it is seen that he has delicately carved both the face and the many jewels of the goddess.
In short, a wonderful example of the art of the Vijayanagar empire, a period between the fourteenth and fifteenth centuries, in which various artists from the north of India converged here India who were able to work with great pleasure on the most traditional themes of the Hindu religion and its various aspects, including the tantric.