Images such as this are known as Kalighat paintings, after the famous Kalighat temple in Kolkata (Calcutta) dedicated to Kali, the fearsome goddess of time and death. From around 1830, distinctive, quickly painted souvenirs were produced
in large numbers for visitors who flocked to the temple. The images were intended to aid domestic worship and typically illustrate Hindu deities. Later, mass-produced prints replaced Kalighat paintings.
Paintings of goddesses were a favourite subject among Khaligat customers and their composition is often similar due to the need to produce pictures quickly and cheaply. Here is a painting of the goddess Kamala Kamini who is said to be an incarnation of the fearsome goddess Durga.Durga is usually depicted slaughtering the buffalo demon, Mahisasura, but here she is seated on a lotus leaf and accompanied by the elephant-headed god Ganesha. In some stories, Kamala Kamini, Durga is the mother of Ganesha, while in others the connection between the goddess and the elephant symbolises an abundance of rain.
The goddess Durga, mother of Ganesh
watercolour with gold and silver paint on paper
44.0 x 27.6 cm (irreg.)
Signature & date
Not signed. Not dated.
Not on display
Shown in 2 exhibitions
Referenced in 5 publications
Kate Brittlebank, TAASA Review, "Postscript: Kalighat's Missionaries', pg. 23, Sydney, Dec 2006.
Kate Brittlebank, Journal of the History of Collections, 'Anthropology, fine art and missionaries: The Berndt Kalighat album rediscovered', pg.127-142, Oxford, May 2008.
Jackie Menzies (Editor), The Asian Collections Art Gallery of New South Wales, 'Folk Paintings and Souvenir Pictures', Sydney, 2003, 48 (colour illus.).
Haema Sivanesan, Indian painting, 'Indian Painting', verso of poster., Sydney, 2001. cat.no. 5.1
Jill Sykes, Look, 'Artworks from India under the British Raj...', pg.30, Sydney, Jul 2010, 30 (colour illus.).