Place of Origin: Tanjore, South India
Date: 17th Century
Overall: 440mm (17.25 inches)
Originating from South India, probably Tanjore, this leaf-shaped spear head is flamboyantly chiselled in keeping with local tradition. The socket is gently faceted and shows beaded malas (bands) and decorative flaming arches. At the top of the socket is a kirtimukha (face of glory) mask with deeply chiselled features. It is shown with bulging eyes and a flared nose, the sharp teeth exposed in the gaping mouth from which the blade extends. Double-edged, the blade has a central, raised spine giving it both strength and aesthetic value.
Kirtimukha was a demon lion created by Lord Shiva to defeat the monster Rahu who had challenged Shiva at the orders of the King Jalandhara. Terrified at the sight of the ravenous Kirtimukha, Ruhu sought Shiva’s mercy, and Shiva ordered Kirtimukha to feed on the flesh of its own feet and hands to satisfy its own hunger. Kirtimukha willingly ate its body, stopping only when its face remained. Shiva, who was pleased with the result, gave it the name face of glory and declared that it should always be at the door of his temples. This is a feature that can be found widely in the south of India, particularly in Tamil Nadu from where this spear head comes.
It is mounted on a short, red shaft and metal base for display.