We acknowledge the Gadigal of the Eora Nation, the traditional custodians of the Country on which the Art Gallery of NSW stands.


The Seven Mother Goddesses (Saptamatrika)

12th century-13th century


Unknown Artist

  • Details

    Other Titles
    Hindu Deities
    Shiva and the Matrkas
    Alternative title
    Place where the work was made
    Karnataka India
    Hoysala period circa 1022 - 1346 → India
    12th century-13th century
    Media category
    Materials used
    black chlorite schist
    40.5 x 98.0 x 18.5 cm; 126.5 kg.
    Signature & date

    Not signed. Not dated.

    Gift of Sir James Plimsoll 1978
    Not on display
    Accession number

    Reproduction requests

  • About

    In Puranic literature, the Seven Mothers (Saptamatrikas) emerge to aid Shiva in his battle against the formidable demon, Andhaka. According to the legend, Shiva strikes Andhaka; but with each drop of blood that falls from the wound, a replica of the demon arises. Seeing Shiva faced with thousands of Andhakas, the other male gods send their ‘shaktis’, in the form of the Seven Mothers, to stop the blood from falling to the ground and prevent the multiplication. With the help of the ‘matrikas’, Shiva overcomes his foe. In the famed ‘Devi Mahatmya’, the Saptamatrikas again perform a similar function and help Durga vanquish the demon Raktabija (see cat. 67).

    The stele shows Shiva, seated on the far left, accompanied by the Seven Mothers. From left to right, the goddesses are Brahmani, who emerges from the god Brahma; Maheshvari, who emanates from Shiva; Kaumari, the counterpart of the warrior god, Kumara; Vaishnavi, the female energy of Vishnu; Varahi, the partner of Varaha, the boar incarnation of Vishnu; Indrani, the ‘shakti’ of Indra; and the fierce, skeletal personification of energy, Chamunda. The panel’s intricate carving and richly embellished figures are stylistically typical of Hoysala period sculpture.

    Chaya Chandrasekhar, ‘Goddess: divine energy’, AGNSW 2006, pg.108.

  • Exhibition history

    Shown in 1 exhibition

  • Bibliography

    Referenced in 6 publications