Height: 10 in (25.4 cm)
Width: 11 in (27.9 cm)
Depth: 7 in (17.7 cm)
Bhutas are spirits or supernatural beings that exist in various forms and are worshipped by devotees out of both respect and fear. In northern Kerala and coastal areas of Karnataka, bhutas often represent spirits of local heroes and animals, and play several important roles in the daily life of the villagers. They may be benevolent or malevolent, and can either bless or punish. In these areas, bhuta worship is particularly theatrical, and during worship rituals, devotees connect directly with bhutas through the 'spirit mediums' that don their masks and come to embody them. Once the ceremonies were completed, these masks were returned to the temples, where they were worshipped as representations of the spirits.
This bhuta mask represents either 'Jarandaya' or 'Jumadi', in a seemingly benevolent form with a fierce yet smiling countenance. 'Jumadi' is known to be a benefactor, who fulfils wishes and maintains justice. The mask has finely detailed features including a pair of fangs, thick eyebrows and moustache, circular ear ornaments surmounted by three-headed 'nagas' or cobras, and a two-tier 'naga' aureole crown.