The emergence of Tantrism and Shaktism in the sixth-seventh centuries in ancient India symbolised a belief in fertility worship, worship of the female principle with the Devi/Goddess supreme as the Energy/Power -- the substance of everything, pervading everything. In Orissa in particular, the shakta/tantra cults played a major role in the religion and culture of the region and this is testified by its many temples and sculptural wonders therein.
In this work, Prof. Donaldson presents a rich and variegated picture of the shakta/tantra art of Orissa, highlighting the evolving iconography of individual images. Based on largely first-hand study of the temples and their iconography and also referring to various textual sources, he deals with, in detail, the shakta mythology of the region along with its depiction in iconography. He focuses on different forms and depictions of the Goddess -- the Matrikas, Camunda, Naga/Nagi, Manasha/Jaratkuriu, Tara, the Mahavidyas, the Yoginis and Dakinis and images of Purusha/Prakriti, Agni/Soma and Linga/Yoni, Painstakingly analysing the architecture of a number of temples and their images. The work abounds in photographs (more than seven hundred) revealing the variety of forms of the Goddess and their widespread distribution and provides many maps, diagrams and iconographical charts as well.
A thorough research giving attention to minute details even while studying a wide range of iconographical traditions and forms, this work will prove an indispensable source book for young as well as established scholars.