Kali dancing on Shiva

Contributed by Horniman Museum

Kali dancing on Shiva

On Kali-puja, the figure would be paraded through the streets before being immersed in a tank of water or a riverIn 1894 Frederick Horniman purchased this figure from Kolkata (formerly Calcutta), a city named after the mother goddess Kali. Horniman was travelling in India at the time having retired from active work managing the Horniman family tea business. Hornimans' Tea was one of the most popular beverages in Victorian Britain and as a result made Frederick a very wealthy man. Throughout his life he indulged his passion for collecting and put on display in his museum in Forest Hill everything from birds' eggs to a torture chair. This figure depicts a Hindu myth. The Gods asked Kali to kill a monster that was destroying the world. Each time the monster was wounded, 1,000 demons sprang from a drop of blood. Kali consumed the monster in one gulp, saving the world. This figure would have been used for the festival of Kali-puja, when devotees ask Kali to destroy evil.

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