Modern and Contemporary Art

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Mask, 20th century

Tibet, 20-2000
Metal
13-1/2 x 16 in. (34.29 x 40.64 cm.)
Norton Simon Museum, Estate of Armand J. Labbé, in memory of his parents, Gertrude and Armand Labbé
P.2006.02.09
© Norton Simon Museum

Not on view

This ceremonial mask depicts Bhairava, the fierce aspect of the great Hindu god Shiva. Scholars have opined that this Indian deity was assimilated into the Buddhist pantheon in Tibet by the great Indian sage Atisha, who spent the last 12 years of his life there. Indeed, the bared teeth, bulging eyes, flame-like hair and writhing serpents are iconographic elements shared by both Bhairava and Mahakala.


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