"The repoussé work on this mask
is absolutely exquisite! There were two of them made by the same
artist and I kept one for myself!"
Brenda, Dharma Sculpture
This hand made Nepalese Mahakala
Bhairava mask is made of copper, coral, turquoise and yak bone. It
is said that the ferocious face of the mask will drive away all
forces of evil. You will typically see masks such as this one
hanging in the entrances of Buddhist temples as an apotropaic symbol
to ward off evil spirits or bad luck.
This mask of the ferocious Hindu god
Bhairava was created by Newari artists in Nepal. Bhairava is a
popular divinity in the Newar community. Bhairava is the wrathful
aspect of Shiva, the warrior king of the gods. To a devotee, he is
the master and creator of the universe, the Supreme Being (Ishvara)
who protects from all dangers in this and future lives.
Bhairava has three bulging eyes, the
third eye being the divine eye of Shiva that can project a beam of
energy to incinerate enemies. Indeed Newari tradition incorporates
many Buddhist elements, and combines them with Hindu religious
elements. Bhairava is sometimes described as a Hindu analogue of the
Buddhist deity Mahakala. However, the worship of Bhairava often
involves animal sacrifice, which is abhorrent to Buddhist culture.
Buddhism also adopted Bhairava as a deity and a dharmapala or dharma protector. The various buddhist forms of Bhairava (variously called Herukas, Vajrabhairava, Mahakala and Yamantaka) are considered fierce deities and yidams (tantric meditational deities) in Tibetan Buddhism. They also have their own set of buddhist tantras. The tantric practices associated with Bhairava focus on the transformation of anger and hatred into understanding.
This hanging mask was made using a process called repoussé, the process of ornamenting metallic surfaces with designs in relief hammered out from the back by hand. It was hand crafted by the very talented artists of the beautiful Himalayan Kingdom of Nepal.