The word Panchamukha is a portmanteau of the words ‘panca’, which means five, and ‘mukha’, which means face. Lord Panchamukha is the five-headed roopa (form) of Hanuman. The faces are of Hayagreeva, Garuda, Anjaneya, Narasimha, and Varaha, and represent the five paths of worship of the divine ie naman, smaran, keerthanam, yacham, and arpanam. The painting that you see on this page is a powerful depiction of Lord Pancamukha.
He is possessed of (‘dhari’) eight (‘ashta’) arms (‘bhuja’). With each hand He wields a weapon to fight against adharma, while the anterior right hand He raises in blessing upon the finest of yogis. His legs are gathered in the stance of the vatayanasana, a hathayogic asana that resembles the head of a horse. He is poised on a mat, in front of which is a plateful of traditional offerings such as a cracked coconut and bananas and a tiny lamp to emphasise on the sattvapradhana gunas (divine attributes) of Lord Pancamukha.
This kalamkari painting has been executed on a stretch of rough-hewn cotton fabric canvas. It is a bitone composition. The solid-coloured background is a resounding scarlet, which contrasts sharply with the washed-out ochre complexion of the Lord’s form. Shades of red define certain details on His person such as the jewels on His adornments and the embroidery on His attire. Such a powerful image in colours as vivid as these would add to the aesthetics of any Indian home.
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