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    Sale 2271

    Indian and South East Asian Art: Including Highlights from the Star Collection

    20 March 2009, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 1303

    A rare silver mask of Shiva


    Price Realised  


    A rare silver mask of Shiva
    India, Karnataka, circa 18th century
    The mustachioed face with parted mouth baring fangs, large eyes and with a sun and crescent moon above, adorned with a wide torque with dangling paan-leaf motifs, earrings and tiara, crowned by nine nagas, the center snake with a scaled hood and the rest with incised curliques, all with beaded edges and ribbed spines with further dangling leaf motifs
    15¾ in. (40 cm.) high

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    This type of mask is used during bhuta worship, practiced in the coastal region of Karnataka. Bhutas are celestial or ancestral spirits that are represented by hundreds of different forms, including boars, buffalos, and fierce forms of Shiva, such as the present example. During an all night festival, the mask is worn by a trained medium who invites the bhuta to possess him. He then sings, dances, tells stories, gives advice, and solves problems for the sponsoring family or village group. See S. Aryan, Unknown Masterpieces of Indian Folk and Tribal Art, 2005, p. 61-63, for buta masks made in brass; and also the forthcoming exhibit at the Rietberg Museum, Dancing Masks - Bronzes from Southern India, 17 May - 23 August, 2009. The present example, made in silver, indicates it was a particularly important and expensive commission.


    W. Uhde Collection, Germany, before 1978

    Pre-Lot Text



    On loan to the Völkerkundemuseum, Heidelberg, 1984-2008