Mahakala/Bhairava with Buddhas, Ganesha, Karttikeya, Achala, and Devotees
Artist/maker unknown, Nepalese
Newar religious practice employs a unique mix of Buddhist and Hindu elements. The five transcendental buddhas at the top of this painting and Achala (the blue-skinned Buddhist protector at the bottom center) are joined by deities more often affiliated with Hinduism. These include the elephant-headed Ganesha and dancing Karttikeya, who flank their father, Shiva, in his form as Mahakala/Bhairava. Another important feature of Newar art and practice is the depiction and participation of both men and women devotees. In the lower two registers seventeen men (in white-and-red-striped outfits) and seven women (in Malla period red skirts with white-and-blue stripes) offer flowers. Also typical of the Malla period are the shapes of Mahakala's triangular eyebrows, his neatly trimmed moustache and beard, and his round, full eyes.