Last year, at Christie’s New York, a black stone figure of Lokanatha Avalokiteshvara from 12th Century sold for US$24.6m, an auction record for Indian Buddhist figure. This spring, offered at Indian, Himalayan and Southeast Asian Works of Art Sale is another black stone figure – Durga Mahishasuramardini.
A Black Stone Stele of Durga Mahishasuramardini from Pala Period
A black stone figure of Lokanatha Avalokiteshvara from 12th Century set the auction record for Indian Buddhist figure
Durga, also known as Devi or Shakti, is a warrior goddess who combats evils and demonic forces. She is often depicted in Hindu sculpture atop a tiger or lion, with many arms each carrying a weapon. The present lot – a 131-tall figure of Durga, in her manifestation as Mahishasuramardini, slayer of the powerful buffalo – tells the story of a famous battle between the deity and Mahishasura.
Portrait of Durga
According to Hindu myth, Mahishasura was a shape-shifting buffalo demon that no man or god would be able to conquer him. Being invincible, he conquered the heavens. In response, the gods cried to the goddess Parvati for help.
Durga fighting Mahishasura, the buffalo-demon
Parvati summoned the collective shakti or divine power of all the female deities in the creation of Durga, who is bestowed with all the weapons from the gods and a lion for her vehicle to destroy Mahishasura.
After nine days of battle, Durga vanquished Mahishasura and his army and restored the heavens to the gods. This sculpture captures the precise moment of spearing Mahishasura as the buffalo’s head is severed from the body. In killing the buffalo, Durga also killed Mahishasura.
Dated back to late 10th to early 11th century, the sculpture is carved in deep relief and rendered almost fully in the round. The buffalo demon lies beheaded at Durga’s feet with the chakra still lodged in its body, with Mahishasura emerging in his anthropomorphic form from the slain animal.
The sculpture was consigned to Spink & Son, a London antiques dealer, in 1986. The present owner acquired from New York art market in 2007. It is now estimated at US$800,000 - 1,200,000.
A Black Stone Stele of Durga Mahishasuramardini
Northeast India, Pala Period, Late 10th/Early 11th century
Lot no.: 317
- Private collection, Germany, since 1970, by repute.
- Consigned to Spink & Son, London, in July 1986.
- New York art market.
- Acquired by the present owner from the above on 2 January 2007.
Estimate: US$800,000 - 1,200,000
Auction house: Christie’s New York
Sale: Indian, Himalayan and Southeast Asian Works of Art
Lot offered: 53
Auction time: 2018/3/21｜2pm