Dear 1Earth, I have always loved the beautiful,
spiritual art of ancient India and began to collect sacred sculptures
several years ago. I was fortunate enough to meet Dr. Stella Kramrisch,
former curator of the Indian art department of the Philadelphia Art
Museum, and purchase a rare treasure from her private collection of Indian
A sacred sculpture that requires little maintenance
I think this item is a 17th-century mask of Lord
Shiva, a Hindu deity. It's made of brass and measures 12 inches high by 8
Dr. Kramrisch said that this mask was originally stored in a
temple and was only taken out for procession on days that were sacred to
I would be most interested in learning more about this sculpture. — Kenneth G.
Dear Kenneth, Shiva is one of the central deities of
the Southeast Asian Brahmanical Triad, which also includes Brahma and Vishnu.
You can tell your sculpture is Shiva by the five-leaf crown,
elongated ears, and third eye in the center of your sculpture's forehead.
These plaques are often incorrectly referred to as masks.
They were used along with a sculpted body and covered with the appropriate clothes. The plaques were icons in which metal (like
the bronze on yours) was used sparingly to make them affordable. They're most commonly seen in the northwest Himalayan areas of Kulu
Your plaque was probably made by an artisan who worked
within a traditional framework. There are indications of the artist's originality and inventiveness within the
Don't try to clean the sculpture. Just mount it on a stand, leave it alone, and enjoy it.