Devi: The Image of the Goddess in Nepal

Ahmanson Building, Level 4
November 21, 2015–January 29, 2017

The textile and paintings in Devi: The Image of the Goddess in Nepal illustrate the ways in which the Hindu Goddess’s myriad aspects and awesome powers were visually conceived. Throughout Nepal’s recorded history, Hinduism has flourished alongside Buddhism as one of the country’s two major faiths. Both religions were introduced from India but developed uniquely in Nepal through interaction with local belief systems and ritual practices. The Hindu Goddess has long been a significant focus of devotion, particularly in her forms as Durga, Kali, and the Matrikas (Mother Goddesses). 

Worship of the Goddess has prehistoric roots in the fertility and nature cults of South Asia. By the 5th century, the Goddess had acquired cosmic dimensions, reflecting religious and philosophical developments that ascribed tremendous creative powers to the feminine principle. Over the centuries, the conception of an all-pervasive feminine divinity was spread across South Asia. In Nepal, the Goddess is a ubiquitous presence, with certain forms of Durga and images of the Matrikas adopted as tutelary and protective deities.

This exhibition is included in General Admission.
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Image: Durga Slaying the Buffalo Demon, Nepal, 18th century, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, purchased with funds provided by Dr. and Mrs. Satish Lal and the Southern Asian Art Council

Three Mother Goddesses (Matrikas): Mahalakshmi Flanked by Chamunda (left) and Kaumari (right)
The Goddess Ambika Leading the Eight Mother Goddesses in Battle Against the Demon Raktabija, Folio from a Devi Mahatmya (Glory of the Great Goddess)
An Esoteric Form of the Hindu Goddess Kali, Folio from a Book of Iconography
The Hindu Goddess Brahmani