India & Himalayas

Famous 10-headed King Ravana

Indian god
Indian god

Q: This is a Ravana mask that I have been trying to find more info on. I believe it could be pre-1800. I bought it from a good dealer friend who thinks the same age. 45 inches wide, it was cut in half at some point. I really enjoy this great mask.  Josh, 545

A: There is a cheap plastic version of this famous mask on this site. It says “This ten-headed mask represents the Asura (Sanskrit for demon) king Ravana, from the Hindu epic Ramayana. Ravana – a very powerful king – is said to have ten heads and to have kidnapped Sita, the wife of the hero of Ramayana, Lord Rama, an incarnation of Lord Vishnu. Cheap plastic masks like this one are sold on the streets today for celebrants to use. It is not a tourist mask. This particular mask is illustrated in the book, “Masks from Around the World.”

That’s the best I can do. I’m not an expert on Indian mythology. A word of caution: your piece could be 200 years more recent than you and your buddy wish. Wood can age very quickly in tropical countries. No matter, this will be a dramatic piece of folk art to display on your wall. It’s a fine piece.  A

 

3 Comments

  • GIROLAMI Jean-Pierre

    It is possible that your piece are just parts of larger mask, usually these Rvana maks have a a larger mask in the middle and these part are fixed like wings on the side , it is be up to . 1.5 meter wide i.e. 5 feets. It is also possible that your pieces have been cleaned and washed but any way they seems nice and old

  • Alain Rouveure

    Hello, your mask is from India, l would say Orissa. It is of Ravana with his ten heads. Classic and very beautiful. I think it is complete because it has all ten faces. These masks never have eleven. As for age, l would say, looking at the photographs, mid-19th cent but not much older. Colours/pigments and gesso have gone because of weather rather than just an indication of great age. There are monsoons every year in India. Good news is that it has never been repainted like most are, using modern enamel paints. This, to me from the photos, feels like some age, but unlikely to be very old.
    Beautiful piece. Most old Ravan masks have lost a face or are very damaged. Well done. Alain

    • Josh

      Hi, thank you for your info. I am attempting to take better pictures of this mask. I still have not seen a complete wooden Ravana mask of this age (being at least 19thC.).
      Thanks, Josh

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