Her appearance is fearsome: baleful eyes, a protruding tongue, and four arms. In her upper left hand she wields a bloody sword and in her lower left hand she holds the severed head of a demon. With her upper right hand she makes the gesture of fearlessness, while the lower right hand confers benefits. Draped around her is a chain of severed human heads and she wears a belt made of dismembered arms. As the Divine Mother she is often represented dancing or in sexual union with Shiva. As Bhavatarini, the redeemer of the universe, she stands upon the supine form of her spouse.
She is also known as Kalikamata ("black earth-mother") and Kalaratri ("black night"). Among the Tamils she is known as Kottavei. Kali is worshipped particularly in Bengal. Her best known temples are in Kalighat and Dakshineshvara.