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Ragamala Album: Bhairava Raga, c. 1625

Nepal: Bhaktapur (?), 1600-1650
Opaque watercolor and gold on paper
7 x 5-1/2 in. (17.8 x 14 cm)
Norton Simon Art Foundation, Gift of Mr. Norton Simon
© 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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