Goddess Chinnamastā - 19th Century Bengal

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.

Source: www.britishmuseum.org