Head of Bhairava ,

Nepal, Kathmandu Valley

A fearsome form of the Hindu deity Shiva, the wide-eyed and fanged Bhairava embodies rage. Flames emit from his mouth, eyes, eyebrows, and chin, and his red hair appears as an aureole of fire. He wears a diadem entwined with snakes and skulls and set with large rock crystals, pendant ear ornaments of coiled snakes. A small hole that pierces the inner mouth was used during the annual Indrayatra festival to funnel beer through a drinking tube to bless eager devotees. The representation of Bhairava as an independent, masklike head is unique to the Newari metalworkers of Nepal, who were famous throughout the Himalayan world for their skills in working copper. This masks similarity to an inscribed example dated 1560 suggests it was made in the mid-sixteenth century.

On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 252

Public Domain

Object Details

Period: Malla period

Date: 16th century

Culture: Nepal, Kathmandu Valley

Medium: Gilt copper with rock crystal and paint

Dimensions: H. 32 in. (81.3 cm); W. 36 in. (91.4 cm); D. 14 in. (35.6 cm)

Classification: Sculpture

Credit Line: Zimmerman Family Collection, Gift of the Zimmerman Family, 2012

Accession Number: 2012.444.2

Zimmerman Family Collection , New York (until 2012; donated to MMA)
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Masterpieces of Tibetan and Nepalese Art: Recent Acquisitions," September 17, 2013–February 2, 2014.

Asian Art (35,879)