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Kalamukha or Kālāmukha (from the Sanskrit black-face)[1] refers to a member of a medieval Shaivite sect noted for its asceticism. Scholars have commonly been associated the Kalamukhas with the Kāpālikas, or skull-bearers, another group of ascetics who undertook ascetic practices common to both Buddhist and Hindu Tantra. Like the Kapalikas, the Kalamukhas are often described as employing disturbing imagery of death and even cannibalism in their rituals. More recent scholarship on the Kalamukhas suggests they may not have had as much in common with the Kapalikas as has typically been thought; while the Kapalikas embraced horrific imagery, the Kalamukhas seem to have been a less extreme, favouring instead a temple-based approach.

A tribe named Kalamukha also finds description in Mahabharata [2] during Sahadeva's conquest in Saurashtra. The text describes the tribe as a cross between human beings and Rakshasas.


  1. ^ Lorenzen, David N. Kapalikas and Kalamukhas: Two Lost Saivite Sects Berkeley : University of California Press, 1972. ISBN 0-520-01842-7.
  2. ^ Mahabharata Book II p.65