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]
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)
Gift of Dr. Samuel Eilenberg in honor of Dr. Bertram H. Schaffner
This item is not on view
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)
front, 87.185_front_PS9.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2016
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