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This extraordinary box comprises one large box surrounded by seven small boxes, all on a raised tripod stand arrayed tentacle-like. Each box is in the form of a head, which flips open with a hinged lid. The central box can be seen as a representation of the goddess Kali.
Kali is considered to be the goddess of death and destruction who destroys evil in order to protect the innocent. She wears a garland of severed heads which the seven head-like boxes surrounding the central box can be taken to be. Each face has almond-shaped eyes, hair parted in the middle, voluptuous lips and an aquiline nose.
The interior of each box has been painted red – red being the colour of blood and also one of the three colours associated with Kali – white for the Maiden or Virgin manifestation of the goddess, red for the Mother, black for the Old Woman, these three symbolise birth, life, death.
Overall, this highly unusual box is complete and sculptural. The brass has a dark, aged patina. It is the only box of its type that we are aware.