Kali, the 'Black One', appears here in her four-armed form. In her left hands she holds a severed head and a sacrificial blade, two attributes which reveal her bloodthirsty nature. This is further reinforced by her blood-red tongue and the garland of skulls hung around her neck. Kali is a powerful goddess who is both protective and destructive. The polarities of her character are similar to Shiva's paradoxical persona, and so it is not surprising that these deities are frequently associated with one another. In the second work, the depiction of Kali striding over Shiva is symbolic of the energy that the goddess provides Shiva. The transcendent Shiva can only become active in the world through interaction with a female deity, in this case Kali.
For similar works from the Kalighat School see, J. Jain, Kalighat Painting: Images from a Changing World, Chidambaram, 1999, pl. 1 and pl. 29.