Head of goddess Gauri. Bronze; 9 cm x 7 cm. Maharashtra. Early 20th century. 5/314(2).
Gauri is another name and aspect of Parvati, the consort of Shiva. The origin of goddess Gauri is explained in a legend that goes as follows: After their marriage, Shiva and Parvati were travelling around the world. Once when Shiva called out to his consort, “Come Kali”, (Kali means the “black one”), Parvati was offended and decided to leave. Brahma, the Supreme Deity, granted her a boon as a reward for her austerities and said: “Virtuous woman, from today onwards, your black complexion would change into one of the hue of a lotus petal. Because of that ‘gaura’ or hue you would be called `Gauri’ ” 1 meaning the “white one”.
Gauri is particularly popular in Maharashtra and is worshipped during festivals by creating a body out of several plants and affixing such a brass mask on top. This mask is particularly charming with its soft feminine features, delicate lips, almond-shaped eyes, long drawn eyebrows, ornamented hairline and hair braid, looped and affixed on top of the head.
1. Mani, 1984, p.578