The Rubin
  • Art of the Week
December 28, 2016

Female deity Tara is popular in all Tibetan Buddhist traditions. This painting depicts [...]

Durga Killing the Buffalo Demon
December 7, 2016

The narrative of the Hindu goddess Durga—her assembling the weapons of all the gods and overcoming the demigod Mahisha, who endangered the order of the world—is represented here at [...]

Goddess of Long Life Ushnishavijaya
April 13, 2016

Here the eight-armed goddess of long life Ushnishavijaya sits framed by an ornate stupa. An inscription on the back follows the [...]

Magzor Gyalmo, Queen Who Repels Armies
July 8, 2015

Magzor Gyalmo (Mongolian: Chog tegulder okin tngri), Queen Who Repels Armies, is a wrathful emanation of the goddess Sarasvati and the special protector of the Dalai Lamas [...]

Marichi, Goddess of the Dawn
July 1, 2015

The Buddhist goddess Marichi appears in many forms. As the Goddess of the Dawn, one of her most common forms, depicts her in the chariot of the sun pulled by [...]

Green Tara
June 24, 2015

This sculpture is attributed to the hand of Choying Dorje (1604–1674), the Tenth Karmapa, who was head of the Karma Kagyu School of Tibetan Buddhism. An eccentric [...]

Snake Goddess Manasa
June 17, 2015

The central figure on this small stone stele is Manasa, a goddess venerated in the Hindu traditions of Bengal in northeastern India. She is worshiped primarily for her ability to prevent and cure snakebites [...]

Parvati or A Female Form of Shiva
May 27, 2015

Parvati, sometimes called Uma, is a Hindu goddess and the daughter of Himavat, the embodiment of the Himalayan Mountains. She is also the consort of Shiva [...]

Siddha Lakshmi
May 20, 2015

The fierce Siddha Lakshmi, a wrathful manifestation of the Hindu goddess Durga, was the protecting and guiding goddess of the Malla kings [...]

Hindu Festival Banner
May 13, 2015

This double-sided banner shows two matrika, mother goddesses that represent the female counterparts of the great Hindu gods and the embodiments of those gods’ energies[...]

A Glamorous Guide to Long Life
March 4, 2015

The eight-armed goddess Ushnishavijaya resides at the center of this painting inside a richly ornamented stupa. She is one of the three Buddhist deities of long life, along with White Tara and Amitayus. She became popular in Tibet and the Himalayas in the fourteenth century, where she can be found depicted in portable paintings (thangkas), temple murals, and three-dimensional stupas.

In this painting Ushnishavijaya is flanked by the bodhisattvas Avalokiteshvara (white) and Vajrapani (blue) as well as two small celestial deities floating on clouds and bathing her in nectar. A small image of Vairochana, the Buddha from which Ushnishavijaya emanates, sits directly above her within a trefoil-arched niche. Four blue protectors stand in the arched base of the stupa, while numerous deities ensconced in scrolling lotus vine roundels are neatly arranged around the stupa.

This painting is among the most beautiful depictions of Ushnishavijaya in the architectural frame of a stupa. The lavish decorative elements offer strong visual appeal—the dense coloration, flowing textiles and floral garlands, sumptuous jewelry, and small blossoms that fill the background. This painting is also important because it reflects the intersection of Tibetan and Nepalese painting styles during the fifteenth century.

— Natasha Kimmet, Curatorial Fellow

The Buffalo Demon Meets His Match
February 25, 2015

This sculpture of the Hindu goddess Durga defeating a buffalo demon is one of the finest examples of Nepalese craftsmanship in the Rubin Museum’s collection. Standing just less than eleven inches high, this sculpture is a visitor and staff favorite. It captures a moment in the legendary story of the goddess. Bent on upsetting the order of the world, the buffalo demon Mahisha declared, “I will be defeated by no man by day or by night!” But what about a woman defeating him at dusk? Durga took on the role of heroine, and with the weapons of her fellow gods, she defeated Mahisha.

This form of Durga has eighteen arms, each holding a ritual implement. Her arms recede from large and long in the front to smaller and shorter as they go backward, creating a feeling of dynamic motion and perspective. Depicted in a warrior stance, Durga’s right leg is supported by a snow lion while her left leg pins down the buffalo demon. The demon is in the process of shape-shifting from his buffalo form into a humanlike form. To add to the dynamism of the object, two of the demon’s minions, with weapons piercing their chests, form a perfect triangle with Durga. The triangle is a common form in this type of art and serves to draw the eye straight up to Durga’s calm, delicate face. ​

— David Rosenberg, Gallery Guide Program Coordinator