Skip Navigation

Standing Kali

Asian Art

These two statues indicate the widespread importance of goddess iconography in pre-monotheistic cultures. In her four hands, the standing Kali holds attributes—scythe, trident, skull cup, and mace—that allude to her famous battle against the demon Raktabija, a metaphor for the human ego.

Seated next to her, the Egyptian goddess Sekhmet—whose name comes from sekhem, an ancient Egyptian word for power—echoes the fusion of power and femininity ascribed to both shakti and Kali. Also a warrior, Sekhmet is associated with fire, healing, and menstruation. In mythic tales both Sekhmet and Kali are connected to blood, death, destruction, and protection, and to fierce animals such as lions and tigers. These qualities contrast with characteristics typically idealized in women today and point to the formidable roles played by the ancient goddesses.


[Text not currently in gallery]

  • Place Made: Kerala, India
  • DATES 17th century
    DIMENSIONS 8 7/8 x 3 1/2 in. (22.5 x 8.9 cm) Base: 4 x 4 in. (10.2 x 10.2 cm)  (show scale)
    CREDIT LINE Gift of Dr. Samuel Eilenberg in honor of Dr. Bertram H. Schaffner
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
    CAPTION Standing Kali, 17th century. Bronze, 8 7/8 x 3 1/2 in. (22.5 x 8.9 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Dr. Samuel Eilenberg in honor of Dr. Bertram H. Schaffner, 87.185. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 87.185_front_PS9.jpg)
    IMAGE front, 87.185_front_PS9.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2016
    "CUR" at the beginning of an image file name means that the image was created by a curatorial staff member. These study images may be digital point-and-shoot photographs, when we don\'t yet have high-quality studio photography, or they may be scans of older negatives, slides, or photographic prints, providing historical documentation of the object.
    RIGHTS STATEMENT Creative Commons-BY
    You may download and use Brooklyn Museum images of this three-dimensional work in accordance with a Creative Commons license. Fair use, as understood under the United States Copyright Act, may also apply. Please include caption information from this page and credit the Brooklyn Museum. If you need a high resolution file, please fill out our online application form (charges apply). For further information about copyright, we recommend resources at the United States Library of Congress, Cornell University, Copyright and Cultural Institutions: Guidelines for U.S. Libraries, Archives, and Museums, and Copyright Watch. For more information about the Museum's rights project, including how rights types are assigned, please see our blog posts on copyright. If you have any information regarding this work and rights to it, please contact
    Not every record you will find here is complete. More information is available for some works than for others, and some entries have been updated more recently. Records are frequently reviewed and revised, and we welcome any additional information you might have.