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Images Corresponding To Yijing's Goddess

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Chapter Summary

This chapter addresses the model for the eight-armed weapon-bearing form assumed by Sarasvatī in the Sutra of Golden Light, by comparing Yijing's weapon-bearing description with analogous images. It presents art historical evidence to show the iconographic similarity between Yijing's eight-armed weapon-bearing goddess and images of Mahiṣāsuramardinī. The earliest extant representations of Mahiṣāsuramardinī date from the Kuṣāṇa period, and have no corresponding textual sources. An early eight-armed example is the late third-century stele from Mathurā, now in the Museum für Indische Kunst in Berlin.

Keywords: Kuṣāṇa period; Mahiṣāsuramardinī images; Sutra of Golden Light; Yijing



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