Devi: The Great Goddess

Devi (in Sanskrit and in English)
HomepageAspects of Devi
Semi Divine
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Sundari beneath the Mango Tree. Lent by Mr. and Mrs. John Gilmore Ford.
According to ancient lore, the sound of a woman's laughter was all that was needed to induce trees to blossom or to bear fruit. Often images of sundari(beauty) emphasize the association of woman with the bearing and rearing of children. The female figure is an obvious emblem of fertility and thereby of growth, abundance, and prosperity. From this, it was a short step to woman becoming an emblem of the auspicious.
The auspiciousness associated with images of women is believed to be transferred to the monument upon which they are sculpted or painted. A royal palace, a Buddhist stupa, or a Hindu or Jain shrine gains in fortune and prosperity when adorned with the figures of women.

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The Arthur M. Sackler Gallery and Freer Gallery of Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, DC 20560.
All presented material is copyright © Smithsonian Institution, 1999 except where otherwise noted.