A FINELY CAST GILT-COPPER REPOUSSE MASK OF BHAIRAVA NEPAL, DATED 1545 |
300,000 - 500,000 HKD
bidding is closed
- 39.2 cm, 15 3/8 in.
the ferocious mask with large bulging almond-shaped eyes, beneath arched flaming brows beneath a third eye, the mouth agape revealing menacing teeth, framed by a moustache and beard formed from flaming curls, the neck encircled by a stepped collar with a beaded edge centred by a serpent, inscribed with a long inscription dated Samvat 665 (in accordance with 1545), stand
This is a particularly powerfully modelled and finely cast example of a mask created by Newari craftsmen depicting Bhairava, a wrathful manifestation of the Hindu god Shiva. He bears Shiva's effigy at the base of his foliate skull tiara. Flaming hair, bulging eyes, and earrings made of serpents are all associated with Bhairava. This mask-like form of his image is ubiquitous because of its ritual significance. These masks were never actually worn, and they were used only during a special annual festival dedicated to Indra, the Indra Jatra. Behind each mask, a pot of beer or spirits was placed and poured through a funnel pipe emerging from the hole in the divinity's mouth. The consecrated beverage would then be consumed with great enthusiasm by participants during the ceremony. The custom of drinking as part of the Indra festival is peculiar to Nepal, and these large, mask-like sculptures are unique to the country. For a similar example in the Museé Guimet, Paris, see Ian Alsop, 'The Masks of the Newars', Orientations, September 1993, p. 57, fig. 14; and another mask sold in our New York rooms, 24th March 2004, lot 91.