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Face of Bhairava

c. 16th century
Artist/maker unknown, Nepalese

A form of the Hindu god Shiva, Bhairava is the protector of the city of Kathmandu in Nepal and is venerated by both Hindus and Buddhists.

Monumental, masklike faces of Bhairava are made in Nepal for various festivals, most notably Indra Jatra, which is celebrated over several days in early fall in the Kathmandu Valley. During the festival, hollow faces like this one are garlanded in flowers and put on platforms. Each face has a spout emerging from its mouth that is attached to a vessel containing home-brewed beer. When the sanctified beer is released, Hindus and Buddhists jostle to catch a mouthful, treating it like a benediction from Bhairava that brings good luck for the year to come.

Object Details

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