From Wikipedia article of Lion-man or The Löwenmensch figurine:

The Löwenmensch figurine or Lion-man of the Hohlenstein-Stadel is a prehistoric ivory sculpture discovered in the Hohlenstein-Stadel, a German cave in 1939. The German name, Löwenmensch, meaning "lion-human", is used most frequently because it was discovered and is exhibited in Germany.

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The lion-headed figurine is the oldest-known zoomorphic (animal-shaped) sculpture in the world, and the oldest-known uncontested example of figurative art. It has been determined by carbon dating of the layer in which it was found to be between 35,000 and 40,000 years old, and therefore is associated with the archaeological Aurignacian culture of the Upper Paleolithic. It was carved out of mammoth ivory using a flint stone knife. Seven parallel, transverse, carved gouges are on the left arm.

After several reconstructions that have incorporated newly found fragments, the figurine stands 31.1 cm (12.2 in) tall, 5.6 cm (2.2 in) wide, and 5.9 cm (2.3 in) thick. It currently is displayed in the Ulm Museum, Germany.

My question is whether this ivory figure was crafted based on the story of Nrisimha or Narasimha ?

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1 Answer 1


The Lion-man statuette has nothing to do with the Narasiṃha avatar of Viṣṇu.

The Bhāgavata Purāṇa says the Narasiṃha avatar had a mane (saṭā-keśara) which is typical of a male Asiatic lion and this is clearly missing in the Lion-man sculpture. And it's not just the mane, several other features listed below are also missing.

SB 7.8.19-22 — Hiraṇyakaśipu studied the form of the Lord, trying to decide who the form of Nṛsiṁhadeva standing before him was. The Lord’s form was extremely fearsome because of His angry eyes, which resembled molten gold; His shining mane, which expanded the dimensions of His fearful face; His deadly teeth; and His razor-sharp tongue, which moved about like a dueling sword. His ears were erect and motionless, and His nostrils and gaping mouth appeared like caves of a mountain. His jaws parted fearfully, and His entire body touched the sky. His neck was very short and thick, His chest broad, His waist thin, and the hairs on His body as white as the rays of the moon. His arms, which resembled flanks of soldiers, spread in all directions as He killed the demons, rogues and atheists with His conchshell, disc, club, lotus and other natural weapons.

The reason the mane is missing in the Lion-man sculpture is because it's modeled after the cave lion and the males of this species lacked distinctive manes. And some researchers are still trying to figure out if the bottom human part of the statuette represents a man or a woman.

  • Thanks for responding. I never said that it is exact replica of Narasimha. I queried whether this ivory figure was crafted based on the story of Nrisimha? Bhagavata Purana was written much later to Mahabharata. Nrisimha was first mentioned in Mahabharata. This story might have travelled to west and the people there might have crafted in the manner they understood.@sv. Jun 29, 2019 at 0:52
  • Unless the description of Narasiṃha avatar in Mahabharata is very different from the one in Bhagavatam, which text was written first should not matter, agree? 'whether this ivory figure was crafted based on the story of Nrisimha?' - what makes you think so? Half-lion, half-man? There are tons of other hybrid creatures. Why link everything to Hinduism? Seems like a case of confirmation bias... @srimannarayanakv Jun 29, 2019 at 2:28
  • I proposed my guessing to all members, which may not be acceptable to someone like you. :-). No problem. @sv. Jun 29, 2019 at 2:32
  • You also proposed your guessing comparing Dasaratha Jataka and Ramayana. Didn't you? So guessing is Natural to humans. Even big scientific theories start with guessing only @sv. Jun 29, 2019 at 2:38
  • Let's discuss in chat... Jun 29, 2019 at 2:41

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