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Chitipati Skull Mask ca. 1960, Nepal A
- Finely Carved Chitipati Skull Mask ca. 1960, Nepal A
- Measures approx. 9 1/2" x 8 1/2" x 4"
- Material: Hardwood and pigments.
- Chitipati are Protector Deities in Tibetan Buddhism and Vajrayana Buddhism of India. The Chitipati are formed by two Skeletal Deities, one male and the other female, both dancing wildly with their limbs intertwined. In many images, they dance inside a halo of flames, which represent Metaphysical and Spiritual Change. The Chitipati are said to be one of the seventy-five forms of the Deity Mahakala. Their symbol is meant to represent both the Eternal Dance of Death, as well as Perfect Awareness. They are invoked as Wrathful Deities summoned to punish Evil, as well as Benevolent Protectors invoked to protect the Good.
- The Chitipati are Protectors of Graveyards and are very popular Gods in India and Nepal, where they are thought to be protectors of Merchants and Markets.
- Legend claims The Chitipati were a Ascetic Couple meditating in peace near a graveyard. In their deep state of meditation, they did not notice a murderous thief who had snuck upon them. While deep in their meditation, the thief beheaded them both, and threw them into an open grave, which caused them to reach the next stage of Ascetic Practices. Infuriated by the act, The Chitipati swore vengeance on the thief and became the Archenemy of Thieves and other Criminals.
- The Chitipati cannot leave cemeteries and can only grab thieves passing through them. While waiting for criminals, the Chitipati pass their time by dancing and blowing horns, a ritual reenacted by Tibetan monks twice annually. Their dancing also serves as a symbol for Death and Rebirth. Their Skeletal Form is a reminder of the Impermanence of Life and Eternal Change.