Goddess Kaali and Tara


Mithila painting is a traditional mural artform from Madhubani district, Bihar. The artform is known to be a woman’s preserve, one that has roots in the wedding rituals of the Maithil community. Today, many artists from both genders create canvases filled with depictions of religious gods and symbols, socio-political issues as well as rural and natural life. Over the years, Mithila art and artists have acquired tremendous popularity among national as well as international audiences.

This painting created by Krishnanand Jha showcases the Goddess Kali and Goddess Tara (Ugratara). Both are four armed goddesses standing on top of a corpse of a man. The goddess on the left, Kali, is holding a severed head of a demon. Her tongue is perched outwards and the forehead of the corpse is painted indicating the third eye – a representation of God Shiva, another symbol of the snake near the man’s arm place him as Shiva. The goddess on the right can be identified as Tara, the second goddess from the Mahavidyas (Ten Goddesses of Wisom). She is painted in a darker shade, the complexion that gives her the name ‘Ugratara’ (Fiery dark goddess), among the weapons she also holds motifs like the blue lotus and the drinking vessel. These are characteristic of the Shakti cult goddess Tara’s furious encarnation Ugratara. The lotuses seen beneath with geometric symbols in the centre are commonly seen tantric symbols. The entire canvas is brightly coloured and the forms appear in strict two-dimensional format, even the cup like vessel in the hands of Tara is seen as a mere red circle.

Krishnanand Jha (1938-2018) was one of the first male artists to pursue Mithila art as a profession. Born to a tantric priest, Krishnanand himself followed tantric rituals. This is why most of his work depicts gods and goddesses. Krishnanand’s paintings began getting attention in the 1980s as they were unlike any other Mithila works. Jha mastered the Kachni style creating exemplary lineworks and patterns using them. At the Ethnic Arts Foundation’s exhibition ‘Mithila Art: the New Generation’ in New Delhi, 2013, he was honored for his life’s work.

To read more on the artform, click here.

Goddess Kaali and Tara
Krishnanand Jha
Ink and pigment on Paper
H: 49.5 cm x W: 38.8 cm
Accession No.