This figure is seated in a manner specific to Nepalese works (a leg pendant, the left foot resting on the opposite thigh), both hands ‘turning the wheel of dharma‘ – a gesture not normally associated with Avalokiteshvara, who, on the other hand, may have an effigy of Amitabha in his headdress, but here the effigy is of a deity who extends the right hand and holds a round object or a flower with the other, as Avalokiteshvara may do.
The historical buddha is depicted with lotus ear ornaments typical of Nepal, a transparent sanghati with an incised grain rice border, one extremity forming two layers of thick folds over the left shoulder, his finger joints well delineated both on the inside and the outside – a distinctive feature of the Khasa Malla style.
14th century, Nepal, Khasa Malla, Manjushri, gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo by Koller.The shape of the flaming arch and the traces of red paint on it and on the rim of the lotus base, the shape of the base itself and the incised finger joints on the outer side of the left hand are all indicators that the item was made in the Khasa Malla kingdom.
The urna shaped like a half moon and the eyebrows linked with a horizontal line are highly unusual among Himalayan art and possibly specific to the artist commissioned to make the statue.
There is a tiny ring on the little finger of his left hand, which clasps the Prajnaparamita sutra.
The back of the mandorla and the lotus base on Khasa Malla sculptures is usually unfinished and partly painted red.