A specially commissioned icon of the Goddess Kali by Bengali artist Kaushik Ghosh went on display at the British Museum in London this month as the first contemporary 3D representation of the Goddess for an exhibition entitled ‘Feminine power: the divine to the demonic’.
As one of the most prominent and widely venerated goddesses in India, this devotional image of Goddess Kali reflects the living tradition of her worship, important for millions of Hindus around the world today.
Together with London Durgotsav Committee, which runs the annual Kali Puja Festival at Camden in London, the Indian exhibit honours the divine force alongside installations from around the world.
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“Loved and feared for her formidable power and aggression, Kali is the of destruction and salvation, who transcends time and death, destroys ignorance and guides her followers to enlightenment,” the museum notes.
“Although superficially terrifying, the bloodied heads that she wears and carries represent her power to destroy the ego, setting her followers free from worldly concerns, and the belt of severed arms signifies that she liberates them from the cycle of death and rebirth, by the many weapons she wields,” it adds.
The new , which opened last week and runs until September, brings together ancient sculpture, sacred artefacts and contemporary art from six continents to explore the diversity of ways in which femininity has been perceived across the globe, from the ancient world to today. It explores the embodiment of feminine power in deities, goddesses, demons, saints and other spiritual beings, associated with diverse areas of human experience, from wisdom, passion and nature, to war, mercy and justice.
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Objects from cultures across the globe are displayed together for the first time including painted scrolls from Tibet, Roman , intricate personal amulets from Egypt, vibrant Japanese prints and Indian relief carvings alongside contemporary sculptures. The exhibition features over 80 unique and spectacular objects, drawn from the British Museum’s world-class collection complemented by spectacular loans.
The exhibition will go on an international tour later in the year, starting at the National Museum of Australia in Canberra, before being shown at five venues in Spain in partnership with Fundación Bancaria La Caixa.