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In the context of a royal temple, this tenth-century yogini’s sword, shield, and war-cry whistle would have resonated as martial and protective emblems.

Yoga: The Art of Transformation


Between the seventh and twelfth centuries, the term “yogini” referred to both fierce flying goddesses and the mortal women who ritually became those deities. This voluptuous yogini is a four-armed goddess. Sitting on an owl and brandishing a sword, she inserts two fingers into the corners of her open mouth, bares her individually carved teeth, and emits a piercing whistle. She may have been one of the yoginis whose name roughly translates as “she who makes a loud noise.”

India, Uttar Pradesh, Kannauj
First half of the 11th century
San Antonio Museum of Art, purchased with the John and Karen McFarlin Fund and Asian Art Challenge Fund 90.92

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The Freer|Sackler is closed for renovation and reinstallation. The popular exhibition Turquoise Mountain: Artists Transforming Afghanistan is still on view in the International Gallery. (Enter through the Ripley Center.) Join us for our reopening celebration on October 14–15, 2017.