Kirtimukha

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Details

Size: 11 x 2 x 10.25 inches
Material: Brass
Origin: South India

Description

This is a brass, lost-wax cast figure of the all consuming Kirtimukha from South India. The Kirtimukha or 'Face of Glory' is a ferocious monster face with protruding eyes, huge fangs and gaping mouth who is a protector deity, a guardian warding off all evils. Kirtimukha serves primarily as a gruesome, awe-inspiring guardian of the threshold. This would probably have been at the top of a prabhavali (the protective arch around the idol).
Kirtimukha's story begins when a great king Jalandhara, who "by virtue of extraordinary austerities ... accumulated to himself irresistible powers." In a burst of pride, he challenged Shiva to give up his beautiful bride Parvati. Shiva's immediate answer was to explode a tremendous burst of power from his third eye, which created a horrendous, emaciated, ravenous lion. A terrified Rahu sought Shiva's mercy, which Shiva agreed to. But how then were they to feed the ravenous demon lion? Shiva suggested that the monster should feed on the flesh of its own feet and hands. So Kirtimukha willingly ate his body starting with its tail as per Lord Shiva's order, stopping only when his face remained. Shiva, who was pleased with the result gave it the name Face of Glory and declared that it should always be at the door of his temples.

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