Four-Armed Goddess, possibly Sarada

Date: late 9th century

Culture: India (Jammu and Kashmir, ancient kingdom of Kashmir)

Medium: Chlorite schist

Dimensions: H. 12 3/8 in. (31.4 cm); W. 7 7/8 in. (20 cm); D. 3 in. (7.6 cm)

Classification: Sculpture

Credit Line: Gift of Mr. and Mrs. Perry J. Lewis, 1984

Accession Number: 1984.488

Description

This crowned goddess, wearing a distinctive Kashmiri-style kurta-mode of dress, holds an upright sword in one hand and the severed head of a goat in the other. She likely represents Sarada (autumn), the Kashmiri synonym for Saravati, the goddess of learning. Her two lower hands rest on two diminutive male figures, each holding a manuscript, who presumably embody the complementary elements of knowledge (vidya) and wisdom (jnana) and consciously mimic Vishnu’s personified weapons, the purusas. The Sarada Mahatmya speaks of offering meat to Sarada, a reminder of her Durga-like origins, alongside her role as the embodiment of knowledge texts.

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