Smithsonian Freer Gallery Sackler Gallery National Museum of Asian Art Gallery Guide Art of Buddhism
Standing in the dynamic, diagonal pose known as the hunter's stance (pratyalidha), Bhairava, a fierce manifestation of the Hindu god Shiva, is one of the most important deities of Nepal, sacred to Hindus and Buddhists alike. Each of his three scowling faces has round bulging eyes, an open mouth displaying fangs, and a trim beard, while his six hands brandish weapons. His robust body is ornamented with a range of twisted serpents that serve as earrings, bracelets, anklets, and sacred thread (yajnopavita). He wears a tiger skin and a ritual apron composed of human bones.

The image is made by the complex technique called repoussé, whereby a copper sheet is cold-hammered alternately from front and back to achieve the desired form. The image is constructed of more than twenty separately made parts. It is covered with mercury gilding, and during worship it would have received applications of turmeric and vermilion.

Nepal, 15th century 
Gilt-copper repousse with pigment 
Purchase-Friends of the Freer and Sackler Galleries, S1999.116
Nepal, 15th century
gilt-copper repoussé with pigment
41.9 x 41.1 x 17.7 cm
Purchase–Friends of the Freer and Sackler Galleries, S1999.116
The Arthur M. Sackler Gallery and the Freer Gallery of Art
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