Coloured woodblock print depicting the goddess Chinnamastā wreaking havoc and destruction. The awesome, decapitated goddess stands upon Kama and Rati, the god of love and his wife, who are making love upon a lotus, and proudly brandishes a knife in one hand and her severed head in the other. Three streams of blood gush from her neck: one falls in the mouth of her own severed head and the other two into the mouths of her attendants. Hand-coloured woodblock print.
The goddess Chinnamasta is probably the most explicit representation of the interdependence between sex, life and death. Through the life-creating act performed by Kama and Rati, they transmit vital energy into the goddess who is standing on Rati. The three streams of blood spurting from her neck show the life-energy leaving her but simultaneously feeding and sustaining her and her two attendants. the cosmic, ever-alternating process of the giving, sustaining and taking of life is concisely but dramatically expressed here.
Lithograph by L.H. de Rudder (1807-1881) after an original drawing of October 1841 by Prince Aleksandr Mikhailovich Saltuikov of the procession of the Goddess at Calcutta published in Paris in 1848. In Hindu tradition, Kali 'the black one' is the most terrifying of all the manifestations of Shiva's concort the Great Goddess. In this image, Kali is performing the dance of death on the body of Shiva. She wears a necklace of skulls and holds the heads of sacrificial victims in her hands. It is popularly thought that the name Calcutta derived from the Kalighat temple in the city that is dedicated to the goddess.
Source: British Library
Watercolour Illustrating Worship at the Kali temple in Titaghar, Bengal with sacrificing of goats - 1800
Kali is a manifestation of the great goddess Devi, in her most fierce form. She is often depicted as the personification of Durga's anger as she slays the Buffalo Demon and is the deity revered by a very emotional cult. Kali literally means 'the Black One' and her origins may have stemmed from a tribal deity. For many generations she was considered to be a warrior goddess and was worshipped with sacrificial offerings of flesh and liquor. She was viewed as all-powerful, fierce, passionately sensual and demanding. Yet to her worshippers she was always the all-merciful protector and mother. This drawing shows a courtyard full of worshippers, some carrying goats for sacrifice.
Source: British Library