Goddess Dhumavati: A Rare Representation of the Tantric Mahavidya

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Mahavidya Dhumavati is a Tantric deity to the core. She is feminine and associated with the overtly inauspicious. This is to be found in the marked lack of beauty in Her appearance, Her widowhood (colorless saree), and Her frequent portrayal in a cremation ground. The Dhumavati painting that you see on this page, however, deviates from Her traditional iconography.

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Item Code: PAA612
Artist: Kailash Raj
Dimensions 10.50 inch Height X 5.50 inch Width

Devi Dhumavati’s white saree gleams against Her pristine complexion. Jewels down Her slender limbs and torso, a crown of diamonds, and a studded scabbard and pot and goblet (the implements in the four hands of the chaturbhujadharini). A scarlet veil embroidered in gold barely covers Her long, luxuriant black hair, both of which are typical bridal features. Heavy jewelry with marvelous green and pink gems covers her youthful form. The flower garden behind her, full of colorful blossoms, as a signifier of new beginnings, spring and youth too, diverges from the commonly known imagery of Maa Dhumavati. This rare painting of goddess Dhumavati seems to have drawn inspiration from the “Sahastranama Stotra”, a 1000-name hymn for the goddess, where she is described as the most beautiful female, who is decorated with new clothes, jewels, and garlands. She is equated with Rati, (the Shakti of Kamadeva and a divinely beautiful woman). Goddess Dhumavati in this hymn is said to enjoy the consumption of liquor and be evoked by devotees who themselves are intoxicated- an aspect which is included in this Mahavidya Dhumavati painting as the jeweled pot and the goblet held by the goddess.


Painted in watercolors, the proportion of detail in this composition is astounding. From the embroidery on the rug beneath Dhumavati’s throne to the ornamental balustrade in the foreground, each such detail has been executed with sharp brushstrokes and sure usage of color. Emanating divine aura from her visage that shines like the Sun, Mahavidya Dhumavati in this rare representation is the bestower of great boons.

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