Himalayan Art Resources

Subject: Heads in Himalayan Art

Deities: Physical Features Page

Subjects, Topics & Types:
- Description (below)
- Gender (male, female, both, neither)
- Three Moods (Peaceful, Semi, Wrathful)
- Colours of Faces
- Number of Faces (Deities)
- Animal Headed/Features Gods & Deities
- Heads without Bodies: Rahu, Rahula, Kirtimukha
- Heads as Hand Attributes
- Heads as Decoration: Wrathful Ornaments, skulls
- Confusions: heads to arms equation
- Others...

- Heads in Himalayan Art
- Arms in Himalayan Art
- Legs in Himalayan Art

Heads are a complicated subject in Himalayan art primarily because of religious iconography and the many variables involved. The subjects that directly relate to a figurative form are the gender, mood, colour, number of heads or faces and animal featured in some examples. Considerations unrelated to the overall figure are heads as hand attributes, decorations and heads without bodies.

There is a belief by some scholars of the 20th century that an extra pair of arms are added for each extra head added to the deity. This however is not the case as is seen with examples such as Chaturbhuja Avalokiteshvara and Mahakala along with many other complex Tantric figurative forms.

Jeff Watt 11-2023

(The images below are only a selection of examples from the links above).