www.IndianMiniaturePaintings.co.uk - Ashtamukha Ghandabherunda Narasimha. Mysore, circa late 19th century. Opaque watercolour with gold on wasli. 37.9 x 29.4cm

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Ashtamukha Ghandabherunda Narasimha with Hiranyakashipu and Sharabeshwara lying prone on his lap. Andhra Pradesh, circa late 19th century. Opaque watercolour with gold on wasli. 37.9 x 29.4cm

This form of Narasimha (an avatara of Vishnu), eight-headed with thirty-two arms, and eight heads. While it first appears that the deva (god) in this painting has nine heads, there are not: the birds at either sideof his neck are from two-headed Bherunda whose image became the Wodeyar dynasty of Mysore's royal emblem and is now the state emblem of Karnataka. Ashtamukha Ghandabherunda Narasimha is actively worshipped in Andhra Pradesh where there are temples with murtis (idols) of the deva (god). Elsewhere this deva is barely known so that representations such as this are exceptionally rare. Outside of Andhra Pradesh there are only two representations, both in Tamil Nadu: a wall painting at Shrirangam and a wood carving a wood carving on the chariot at Shri Andal Temple at Shrivilliputtur.

Thanks to the kindness of K S Narayanan for information relating to Ashtamukha Ghandabherunda Narasimha.

Ref: 000877

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Above: gilt detail reflecting light

Images and text © Peter Blohm