Panjurli Bhuta Mask

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Size: 11.25 x 9.5 x 8.25 inches
Material: Bronze
Origin: Coastal Karnataka


This is a lost-wax cast, bronze bhuta mask of the wild boar Panjurli, from Coastal Karnataka. Panjurli has erect ears, tongue extended, and a raised band flanked by lines of circles running around the head, followed by a line of smaller cobra hoods and then larger cobra hoods. Four of the larger cobra hoods on top are partially broken/damaged due to passage of time.
One story of the history of Panjurli is that villages in Coastal Karnataka had lots of boars that often invaded and destroyed the cultivated lands, so the farmers started worshipping and giving offerings to Panjurli, the spirit in the form of a boar, hoping this would appease his mood and thus keep the wild animals away from their fields.
"The Sanskrit word bhuta means spirit. Metal masks such as this are known to have been used in the worship of celestial and ancestral spirits, a practice still followed in the Tulu region of Karnataka in Southern India. The masks could be of deities or animal forms. At festivals called kola, costumed mediums invoke the spirits whilst wearing the masks on their faces or holding them in their hands. Through songs, dances and stories, they solve problems and give advice to families and village groups." - Bonhams.