Friday, February 5, 2016

Hindu heroes, savored through fantastical masks at the Met

By Holland Cotter
Narasimha, Vishnu's Man-Lion Avatar, ca. 1700–1750. Southern India, Tamil Nadu, probably Thanjavur district. 
NEW YORK---It’s a short step from religious ritual to theater, and barely any distance at all in the case of certain popular Hindu dramas of southern India. Performed during seasonal festivals, they are epic in length — they go on for hours, often through the night — and fantastic in character, telling the stories of gods who have the adventure-filled lives of superheroes. The Met recently acquired five large 18th-century wooden masks created for a play about the god Vishnu who, in the guise of the lion-man called Narasimha, visited earth to defeat an evil king and restore order to the universe. [link]

Metropolitan Museum of Art:Encountering Vishnu: The Lion Avatar in Indian Temple Drama” (Ends June 5, 2016); 1000 Fifth Avenue (at 82nd Street), New York, NY; (212)535-7710;