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MYTHICAL LION BIRD BEAST FROM SOUTH INDIA
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Exotica, Natural History & Works of Art

MYTHICAL LION BIRD BEAST FROM SOUTH INDIA

A fabulous chimera

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MYTHICAL LION BIRD BEAST FROM SOUTH INDIA

19th Century Height 15 cm width 14 cm depth 7 cm ( 6 x 5.75 x 3 in ) This wondrous creature has the body of a bird with fanned upturned tail and the head of a typical South Indian mythical lion, a yali, with horns, bulging eyes, beak-like snout and gaping mouth. It stands on an oval lotus base. The beast is a curious fantasy without direct parallels in mainstream Hindu iconography, although chimeras do exist in early Indian literature. Probably best known is the Navagunjara which is made up of nine animals and appears as a form of Vishnu in an Orissan version of the Mahabharata. Winged lions can also be seen in early Indian sculpture (e.g Victoria and Albert Museum, inv. IS 712 1883) and derive ultimately from Western Asiatic models but these have bodies entirely of lions apart from the wings. The creature was probably a subsidiary element in a Hindu shrine. 1872 / 3156

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