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Folio from the Markandeya Purana: the demon Mahishasura assumes the form of a woman to enter the sage Katyayan's hermitage. Mandi, circa late 18th century. Gouache and gold on wasli, with cover sheet bearing the stamp of the royal library collection. 25.5 x 36cm

The text relates how Mahishasura assumes the form of a woman and enters the sage Katyayan's hermitage. He/she begins conversing with a shishya (disciple) of the Rishi Katyayan in private. The Rishi espies this scene from a distance and utters the warining "This is not a woman, but the demon Mahishasura!". The Rishi then warns Mahishasura," You shall be killed by a woman, for as a woman you masqueraded!" The demon metamorphoses back into his buffalo-form and eventually as the curse is realized is killed in battle with Durga.

I would like to express my grattitude to Tarun pant who kindly translated the inscription.

Ref: Mandi MarkandeyaPurana 7411

All images and text © Peter Blohm