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Again, a moment of double-vision: Shadow saw the old woman, her dark face pinched with age and disapproval, but behind her he saw something huge, a naked woman with skin as black as a new leather jacket, and lips and tongue the bright red of arterial blood. Around her neck were skulls, and her many hands held knives, and swords, and severed heads.

Shadow, Chapter Six

Mama-ji is Kali, one of the Old Gods, and a character in American Gods.


Now a waitress at the Motel America, Mama-Ji is a Hindu goddess of war. With her necklace of skulls, acerbic wit, and free spirit, she’s a match for any mighty god or man.[1]

Significance in narrative[]

Main article: Mama-ji/Novel

Significance in series[]

"House on the Rock (episode)"[]

Mama-ji cleans a room at a Motel America while a program on TV discusses the weird weather phenomena occurring in Kentucky (the result of Easter's recent actions) and Wisconsin. She turns off the TV and leaves the room, carrying a forgotten Statue of Liberty souvenir.

At the House on the Rock, the Old Gods are Backstage in Wednesday's memories at Odin's Hall. The gods are visible in their various non-human forms: from Odin, Bilquis, Czernobog, the Zorya sisters, and Anansi to Ame-No Uzeme, Ahura Mazda, the Lion-god, and Frau Holle. Anansi calls everyone around for a story about being at constant war with the New Gods. Odin speaks, reminding them how people brought the gods, including everyone present, with them to America. The Old Gods have been abandoned as the "true believers" either died or stopped believing. They are only getting by as they are replaced by the New Gods, who now want to destroy them.

Mama-ji interrupts, saying that she has seen New Gods rise and fall and they should wait them out. She does not see any of the battles that Odin claims are happening. Bilquis defends Odin, explaining how the New Gods have more followers, more attention, and more power, however, it is not a bad thing. She has been given the tools of the New Gods and warns them they need to evolve or die. Shadow speaks out that he believes Odin. He has lost everyone and everything but he is regaining his belief and faith because of Odin. If they help Odin, they can be worthy of their believers.

At a Motel America diner, Wednesday pours mead as the Old Gods feast and socialize. Shadow approaches Laura and they discuss Shadow's role with Wednesday. She warns him about Wednesday before Wednesday interrupts and calls Shadow over to meet Mama-ji.

A sniper fires into the diner, shooting down Old Gods with bullets engraved with "Deus Mortuorum" (Latin for "God is dead"). In the aftermath, Wednesday finds Zorya Vechernyaya incapacitated by a chest wound. He cradles her as Czernobog holds her hand and she dies.

"The Beguiling Man"[]

In the parking lot of the Motel America diner, Czernobog laments Zorya Vechernyaya's murder at the hands of the New Gods. Mama-ji tells Czernobog they will summon another Zorya but Czernobog explains that there are no more believers left for her old star to rise again. He blames Mr. Wednesday for allowing Zorya to die but a new star will still rise. Wednesday promises them vengeance. Mama-ji agrees to join Wednesday's war because the fight was brought to her doorstep.

Mama-ji enters the diner and tells the Jinn that Wednesday wants him to find Old Iktomi at the "Corn Palace" to get Wednesday's spear, Gungnir.

"The Greatest Story Ever Told"[]

Physical appearance[]

Mama-ji is described as an old woman with dark skin and salt-and-pepper hair. She has a blue jewel on her forehead and a necklace of tiny silver skulls and a charm bracelet of heads and hands. She wears a red sari and smelled of spices and flowers.

Powers & Abilities[]

One of Mama-Ji most prominent abilities is her duplication: she manifests in all of the Motel Americas throughout the United-States, working in each of them under a different function (chamber maid, waitress...).

Mama-ji can reveal to human being an appearance closer to her true form (aura and eyes of golden fire, and extra arms holding weaponry and a severed head) - this is a reflection of "Kali the Destroyer", the reflection of Kali's role as a goddess of destruction, slaughter and death.

Mama-ji identifies herself and Mr. Wednesday as war gods, and thus seems to have abilities related to the concept of war. She also explains to Laura Moon that her appearance as a worker in Motel America is a reflection of Kali the Nurturer, a form of Kali as a mother-goddess, deity of nurturing, protection and feminity.


To edit the Gallery page, go to Mama-ji/Gallery.


Note: The pictures are shown in episodic order. To see the order of the episodes, please visit the Episode guide.

Notes and trivia[]

  • Kali is a Hindu goddess of time, change, power, creation, destruction and death.
  • According to Neil Gaiman, "Mama-ji" is "American pidgin" for "Mataji"[2][3]
  • Mama-ji's role will be expanded and she will appear throughout Season Two[4]