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HOME : Asian Art : Art of Nepal : Stone Stele of Kaal Bhairav
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Stone Stele of Kaal Bhairav - FF.002
Origin: Nepal
Circa: 1700 AD to 1850 AD
Dimensions: 18" (45.7cm) high x 13.5" (34.3cm) wide
Collection: Asian Art
Medium: Stone

Additional Information: Currently in Korea_ 2020.04.12

Location: Great Britain
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Kaal Bhairav is an incarnation of the Hindu god Shiva. According to one legend Brahma and Vishnu were disputing who had the right to be worshipped as supreme creator of the universe. When Brahma claimed this title for himself, Shiva became angry and created Bhairav to punish Brahma for his arrogance. Having cut off one of Brahma’s five heads, Bhairav was forced to carry it around as a reminder of his sin. It is visible here in one of his left arms. The other attributes include a skull cap, a sword and a trident.

Kaal Bhairav is especially popular in Nepal and his image is placed before temples and paraded through the streets during the festival of Indra Jahra. It is believed that his statue acts as a lie detector and people suspected of committing a crime were often brought before him to elicit a confession. It was thought that if they lied they would immediately bleed to death. In this sculpture Bhairava is depicted crushing the demon Vetala, a symbol of human ignorance, beneath his feet. The large garland draped around his neck and beneath his belly is adorned with skulls, a common attribute that sometimes also appears in his headdress. Writhing snakes, or nagas, adorn his earlobes and add to the ferocity of his appearance. Traces of red powder, which was added to the sculpture by pious devotees remind us of the awe and respect that this deity inspired. - (FF.002)


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