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Mahakala/Bhairava with Buddhas, Ganesha, Karttikeya, Achala, and Devotees
Hanging scroll painting (paubha)

Artist/maker unknown, Nepalese

Made in Nepal, Asia

Late 16th century

Colors on cloth

Image: 19 1/2 × 16 1/4 inches (49.5 × 41.3 cm) Frame: 27 1/8 × 23 3/4 × 2 3/16 inches (68.9 × 60.3 × 5.6 cm)

Curatorial Department:
South Asian Art

Object Location:

Currently not on view

Accession Number:

Credit Line:
Gift of Stella Kramrisch, 1963

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Newar religious practice employs a unique mix of Buddhist and Hindu elements. The five transcendental buddhas at the top of this painting and Achala (the blue-skinned Buddhist protector at the bottom center) are joined by deities more often affiliated with Hinduism. These include the elephant-headed Ganesha and dancing Karttikeya, who flank their father, Shiva, in his form as Mahakala/Bhairava. Another important feature of Newar art and practice is the depiction and participation of both men and women devotees. In the lower two registers seventeen men (in white-and-red-striped outfits) and seven women (in Malla period red skirts with white-and-blue stripes) offer flowers. Also typical of the Malla period are the shapes of Mahakala's triangular eyebrows, his neatly trimmed moustache and beard, and his round, full eyes.