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Asian art

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Kamala Kamini nursing a baby elephant



Kalighat style


circa 1830 - 1930


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 a baby elephant. 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.


Other Title

Kamala Kaminy, a form of the Goddess Durga or Chandi with Ganesh

Place where the work was made

Kalighat Kolkata (Calcutta) West Bengal India



Media categories

Painting , Watercolour

Materials used

watercolour with silver paint on paper


44.2 x 27.2 cm (irreg.)

Signature & date

Not signed. Not dated.


Purchased 1959


Not on display

Accession number


Artist information

Kalighat style

Works in the collection


Shown in 1 exhibition

Exhibition history

Referenced in 3 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.

Kate Brittlebank, TAASA Review, 'Unexpected Connections: An Australian Kalighat Album Reunited', pg. 4-5, Sydney, Mar 2006.