Goddess and Attendants

Date: 1st century B.C.–1st century A.D.

Culture: India (West Bengal,Chandraketugarh)

Medium: Terracotta

Dimensions: H. 10 1/2 in. (26.7 cm); W. 7 7/8 in. (20 cm)

Classification: Sculpture

Credit Line: Purchase, Florence and Herbert Irving Gift, 1990

Accession Number: 1990.281


Considerable numbers of such molded plaques have beenexcavated at the ancient urban site of Chandraketugarh, in Bengal, suggesting that they served as icons for personal devotion in households or were placed at outdoor shrines. All are dominated by a hieratically enlarged central female figure whose precise identity is unknown to us. In this early phase of image worship in India, the goddess routinely appears with weapons projecting from her headdress, a form later associated with Durga. She is naked, apart from heavy jewelry and a massive hip belt. The honorific umbrella suggests she is a deity, as does the lowered hand gesture denoting the granting of boons.