The art of Bengal is synonymous with Terracotta . The powerful Durga worshipped as Mahisasuramardini during the Durga Puja every year has been rendered in this medium across the temples of Bengal. She is a most revered Goddess who protects her devotees from evil forces, both internal and external.
Durga is an important deity from the Hindu pantheon. She is revered as a destroyer of evil. She is a Goddess or a devi. The word devi in Sanskrit means divine or heavenly and a shining presence. The concept of devi first appeared in the Vedas in 200 B.C. but gained focus in Puranic literature with texts like the Devi Mahatmya. Goddess Durga reigns supreme and is the divine feminine as Devi in Hinduism and a divine mother as Mata. The legend of Durga appears as an avatar of Parvati, who is angry, ferocious and has eight to ten arms, holding weapons and skulls, riding a lion or tiger. She is a warrior goddess who kills Mahisasura whom the male Gods were unable to control. Durga is a unified form of all Gods.She is one who saves a devotee from durgati or misfortune. Her mythology is described in the Devi Mahatmya, a part of the Markandeya Purana, from the 4th to 6th century.
The images of Goddess Durga in terracotta are seen in the Bishweshwar temple at Sribati in Katwa, Bardhaman, Girigovardhan temple, Krishnachandraji temple at Kalna Bardhaman, Pratapeshwar temple also at Kalna in Bardhaman, Brindaban Chandra Math, Kalna, Ramachandra Temple at Guptipara, Hooghly, Rajarajeshwar temple at Kotulpur, Hooghly, Radhagovindjiu temple at Antpur, Hooghly, among others. Some terracotta images from the temples of Bengal are showcased for illustration.
The Krishnachandraji temple at Kalna was constructed in 1751-55 AD. It is a magnificent brick panchabimsati-ratna temple with an elongated chala type verandah in front having three arches as the entrances. The temple has beautiful terracotta plaques. Goddess Durga is depicted at the temple flanked by her children.
Krishnachandraji Temple, Kalna, Bardhaman, West Bengal.
By Piyal Kundu / পিয়াল কুণ্ডু – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=5732938
Krishnachandraji temple, Kalna, Bardhaman, West Bengal.
By Sujay25 – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=51951981
The construction of the Radhagovindjiu Temple at Antpur was completed in 1786 AD. It has exquisite terracotta carvings with Puranic stories. The 100 feet temple was built by Krishna Ram Mitra, the diwan of the Bardhaman Raj. Besides the Radha-Krishna images which are predominant, the temple has the sculpture of Goddess Durga flanked by her children is noteworthy.
Radhagovindjiu Temple, Antpur, West Bengal.
By Piyal Kundu – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3343649
Radha-govindjiu temple, Antpur, Hooghly.
By Piyal Kundu – Own work, Public Domain, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=3347037
Goddess Durga, Terracottta panel, Lalji temple, Kalna, Bardhaman, West Bengal.
By Sumit Surai – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=51949876
Goddess Durga, Pratapeshwar temple, Kalna, Bardhaman,West Bengal.
By Sujay25 – Own work, CC BY-SA 4.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=51951996
Goddess Durga as Mahisasuramardini, idol at Durga Puja, 21st century.
By AKS.9955 (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/4.0)%5D, via Wikimedia Commons
- Terracotta art of Bengal/Biswas,S.S,Delhi : Agam Kala Prakashan,1981.
- Indian terracotta art/Ganguly,O.C, Bombay : rupa and Co,1959.