This unusually large, fine silver mask shows the god Shiva. The deity is shown as a youthful man – probably as a youthful, princely warrior. He has been depicted with long flowing hair, an elaborate tall crown, large earrings, and large almond-shaped eyes which is typical of such depictions in South India. The image retains traces of red and black enamel, including red over the finely pursed lips and black on the hairlocks that flow over the shoulders.
The mask would have been used as an ornate visage for an image of the deity while it was being worshiped in a temple (perhaps on an important festival day) or as a processional image.
The silver used is particularly high grade, as befitting an item made for religious worship. Traditionally, Hindus regarded silver as a ritually ‘pure’ metal.
A smaller version of a silver Shiva mask is in the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.
The mask is in excellent condition, and is accompanied by a metal display stand.
Aryan, S., B.N. Aryan & G. Rossi, Mukhalinga, Ethnoarte, 2011.