Currently on View in K311
The Kirttimukha is often carved at the apex of arches in Hindu-Buddhist architecture in India and Southeast Asia. It is an adornment that is added to passageways to suggest their symbolic meanings as architectural analogies to the paths of man to God.
There are several myths related to the origins of the Kirttimukha. One of the more popular relates that a demon was beheaded by the Hindu god Visnu for stealing a drink of elixir of immortality. The demon drank enough, however, to make its head immortal, and ever since it has been seeking to devour its betrayers.
In Java the Kirttimukha is called the Banaspati, "Spirit of the Woods," and the lion-like face is the lord and patron of the native jungle. The face here, distorted with fury, has garlands emanating from its mouth and surrounded by vegetal forms.
purchased by the Indianapolis Museum of Art (1982).