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The Hindu deity Alakshmi, goddess of misfortune
Place of Origin: India, Punjab Hills, Himachal Pradesh state, former kingdom of Kangra
Date: approx. 1840
Materials: Opaque watercolors on paper
Dimensions: H. 10 5/8 in x W. 7 1/2 in, H. 27 cm x W. 19 cm
Credit Line: Gift of George Hopper Fitch
Department: South Asian Art
Collection: Painting
Object Number: B87D18
On Display: No

Description

Label:

In some traditions, the goddess Lakshmi has an older sister, Alakshmi or Jyestha (misfortune), who came into being at the same time as Lakshmi, during the creation of the universe. As the embodiment of all that is inauspicious, including disease and poverty, Alakshmi was worshiped to prevent such misfortunes. Depictions of Alakshmi are not common, and when represented she is shown as ugly and dark-skinned, with a crow-headed flag.

Alakshmi is the opposite of Lakshmi, and needs to be “removed” from the devotee’s home before Lakshmi and her blessings can come in. Alakshmi brings bad luck and needs to be placated, and in that regard she occupies a different conceptual space and wields a different type of power compared to fearsome goddesses such as Kali (the personification of both creative and destructive powers of time). A significant deity mainly in southern India during the eighth century, Alakshmi’s cult has lost influence over time.


Label:

In some traditions, the goddess Lakshmi has an older sister, Alakshmi or Jyestha (misfortune), who came into being at the same time as Lakshmi, during the creation of the universe. As the embodiment of all that is inauspicious, including disease and poverty, Alakshmi was worshiped to prevent such misfortunes. Depictions of Alakshmi are not common, and when represented she is shown as ugly and dark-skinned, with a crow-headed flag.

Alakshmi is the opposite of Lakshmi, and needs to be “removed” from the devotee’s home before Lakshmi and her blessings can come in. Alakshmi brings bad luck and needs to be placated, and in that regard she occupies a different conceptual space and wields a different type of power compared to fearsome goddesses such as Kali (the personification of both creative and destructive powers of time). A significant deity mainly in southern India during the eighth century, Alakshmi’s cult has lost influence over time.