Narasimha, Vishnu’s Man-Lion Avatar

Southern India, Tamil Nadu, probably Thanjavur district

Not on view

In this extraordinary mask ensemble, the crowned head of Narasimha is accompanied by a body suit with six articulated arms. The stage presence of the actor who wore this ensemble, fully absorbed into the role of the ferocious man-lion avatar, would have been awesome when seen on the dimly lit stage during the all-night performance. The paint on this mask was refreshed each year for ritual use, and each forearm of the body suit has a cavity into which talismanic objects were sealed to enhance the efficacy of Narasimha’s representation on stage.

Narasimha, Vishnu’s Man-Lion Avatar, Wood with cloth and polychrome, Southern India, Tamil Nadu, probably Thanjavur district

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