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Mask of Ferocious Bhuta Deity

Asian Art

On View: Arts of the Islamic World, 2nd floor

Narasimha, the man-lion reincarnation of the Hindu god Vishnu, is the hero of a popular legend from Hindu mythology. In this legend the demon Hiranyakashipu had a boon from the god Brahma that he could not be killed by any human being, animal, or god; that he could not be killed during the day or night; that he could not be killed on the earth or in the sky; that he could not be killed by a weapon; and that he could not be killed either outside a house or inside one. With such a boon, he began to consider himself immortal and to oppress pious and religious people. He tortured his son Prahlad because he persisted in worshiping Vishnu. To save his devotee, Vishnu incarnated himself with the face and head of a lion and the body of a man. He annihilated Hiranyakashipu at dusk on the threshold of his house by tearing open his stomach with his claws, thus avoiding the terms of Brahma's boon.

  • Place Made: Karnataka, India
  • DATES ca. 18th century
    DIMENSIONS 18 3/4 × 16 7/16 × 7 1/2 in. (47.6 × 41.8 × 19.1 cm)  (show scale)
    CREDIT LINE Purchase gift of Dr. Bertram H. Schaffner
    PROVENANCE Prior to 1996, provenance not yet documented; by 1996, acquired by Maharukh Desai, London, United Kingdom; 1996, purchased from Maharukh Desai by the Brooklyn Museum.
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    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is on view in Arts of the Islamic World, 2nd floor
    CAPTION Mask of Ferocious Bhuta Deity, ca. 18th century. Brass, 18 3/4 × 16 7/16 × 7 1/2 in. (47.6 × 41.8 × 19.1 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Purchase gift of Dr. Bertram H. Schaffner, 1996.24. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 1996.24_SL1.jpg)
    IMAGE overall, 1996.24_SL1.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
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    RIGHTS STATEMENT Creative Commons-BY
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