2016, acrylic on unstretched canvas, 35 1/2 x 85”, by Jenny Badger Sultan
On our recent trip to India in early 2016, I found that the sculptural images that I was repeatedly drawn to were those of Chamunda and the Nagas. Chamunda, a fearsome aspect of Devi, “the Hindu Divine Mother” is usually shown as a skeletal old woman with shrunken breasts, a hollowed-out belly, and necklace of skulls, among other attributes.
She is so much the opposite of the voluptuous depictions of most of the other female deities and her power is intense and striking. Seeing this power embodied as an old woman meant a lot to me, as aging and the end of life are very much with me.
Here is a partial quote from Wikipedia:Chamunda is a fearsome aspect of Devi, the Hindu Divine Mother and one of the seven matrikas (mother goddesses.) She is also one of the chief Yoginis, a group of 64 or 81 Tantric goddesses, who are attendants of the warrior goddess Durga. The name is a combination of Chanda and Munda, two monsters whom Chamunda killed. She is closely associated with Kali, another fierce aspect of Devi.
While other Matrikas are considered as Shaktis (powers) of male divinities and resemble them in their appearance, Chamunda is the only Matrika who is a Shakti of the great Goddess Devi rather than a male god. She is also the only Matrika who enjoys independent worship of her own; all other Matrikas are always worshipped together.”