Lot 35
  • 35


40,000 - 60,000 GBP
43,750 GBP
bidding is closed


  • Maqbool Fida Husain
  • Living Goddess
  • Signed 'Husain' in Devanagari, Urdu and English lower right and further signed, titled and inscribed '"LIVING GODDESS"/ (NEPAL) / Husain' on reverse
  • Oil on canvas
  • 80.5 x 85.5 cm. (31 ⅝ x 33 ⅝ in.)
  • Painted circa 1960s


Acquired directly from the artist via Sara Abraham in 1968

Catalogue Note

This is one of a series of five paintings Maqbool Fida Husain is known to have painted about Nepal. In this dynamic and colourful work from the 1960s, the artist references the Hindu tradition of Kumari. Kumari – also known simply as ‘Living Goddess - Nepal’ – involves the selection and subsequent worship of a pre-pubescent girl from the Shakya or Bajracharya group of the Newari community. A divine female energy is believed to live within the ‘Living Goddess’ until the moment she hits puberty. At this point, a new Kumari is elevated for the community’s reverence. In the current work, Husain’s Living Goddess is depicted atop a tower, flanked by a variety of animal forms. This building is likely to allude to the Kumari Ghar, the palace in which the Nepalese goddess resides. In the palace’s courtyard, the community gathers in the hope that they will catch a glimpse of the Kumari from her window above. Husain perhaps makes further reference to the Kumari tradition, through the snake which joins the goddess on her tower. Before a girl is selected for worship, it is said her mother dreams of a red serpent. 

With its richly coloured shapes and intriguing motifs, this painting is an excellent example of Husain’s visually arresting and symbolically charged oeuvre.