Ragamala Album: Bhairava Raga

Ragamala Album: Bhairava Raga
Place Made:
Nepal: Bhaktapur (?)
c. 1625
Opaque watercolor and gold on paper 
7 x 5-1/2 in. (17.8 x 14 cm) 
Credit Line:
Norton Simon Art Foundation, Gift of Mr. Norton Simon 
Accession Number:
© Norton Simon Art Foundation 
Not on View

In this example from a Ragamala album, the Hindu God Shiva is depicted as the fierce or awesome Bhairava. Depicted as an ascetic, Bhairava wears an animal skin tied around his waist, and his body is smeared with white ash.

Although wearing a wide grin, Bhairava is adorned with many objects that impart his ferocity, such as his trident and skull-adorned staff. Bhairava’s militant alidha posture, one leg bent and the other extended, reveal Shiva’s willingness to engage in violence to cast out demons.

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