Swat Valley, seated Avalokiteshvara (4)

Undated, Swat Valley, Avalokiteshvara, copper alloy, private collection, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

Undated, Swat Valley, Avalokiteshvara, copper alloy, private collection, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

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The figure itself is close in style to a 7th century Avalokiteshvara made of a darker alloy published in an early post but the back plate is the same as other works dated 8th century. He sits on a lion throne, one leg pendant and the foot resting on a lotus bud, flanked by attendants. There is an effigy of Amitabha in his headdress and he holds the stem of a large lotus flower in his left hand.

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We will note the thick embroidered cushion under him, typical of the Kashmir and Gilgit area, and the three kneeling figures on the base, attendants or donors.

9th century circa, Swat Valley, Avalokiteshvara, copper alloy with silver inlay, private collection, photo by Sotheby's.

9th century circa, Swat Valley, Avalokiteshvara, copper alloy with silver inlay, private collection, photo by Sotheby’s.

Even when the lower part is missing we can identify him through the lotus he holds in his left hand. The way he holds his right hand towards him is recurrent on Swat Valley works, where the “pensive pose” (with the head leaning towards the right hand) was popular.

8th-9th century, Swat Valley, Avalokiteshvara, copper alloy with silver inlay, at the Palace Museum in Beijing, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

8th-9th century, Swat Valley, Avalokiteshvara, copper alloy with silver inlay, at the Palace Museum in Beijing, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

This is another example. He is seated on a lion throne with tassels in the corners and a tasseled cloth at the front, a leg pendant, the foot resting on a lotus flower over a small plinth with an inscription, an effigy of Amitabha in his crown, part of his hair gathered in a fan shape, his eyes inlaid with silver, his nipples (and possibly his lips) with copper, adorned with floral earrings, matching necklace and armbands, a sacred thread, a celestial scarf, wearing a long and finely pleated dhoti. 

 

Swat Valley, seated Avalokiteshvara (3)

7th-8th century, Swat Valley, Avalokiteshvara, copper alloy and cold gold, private collection, photo by Koller.

7th-8th century, Swat Valley, Avalokiteshvara, copper alloy and cold gold, private collection, photo by Koller.

This is a rare image of the bodhisattva, with what seems to be a goitre. It is worth pointing that this is a common affliction in the Himalayan region, due to a shortage of iodine, and that Avalokiteshvara is the bodhisattva of compassion.

His facial features are not typical of the area (or Kashmir) but they are reminiscent of a singular 8th century Maitreya from Gilgit published in a previous post and the armbands are identical to those on another 8th century Maitreya from Gilgit now at the Nelson Atkins museum, seated on a similar throne.

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He wears a crown with the side panels folded towards the centre and an effigy of Amitabha in the middle. The side bows of the crown are placed behind the ears, rather than above.

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His hair is a long mass of unusually thick curls, except for two thin braids that fall over his shoulders. A long pleated celestial scarf rests over his arms and across his back, the ends tucked under him.

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His dhoti has deeply incised pleats, the upper part is adorned with a flower and festooned cloth. He displays the varada mudra with his right hand and holds the neck of a flask with the other.

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Another singular detail is the way the lions are turning their back to each other, instead of supporting the throne on it as they normally do. A single letter is inscribed on the tasseled cloth at the front of the throne.

 

Swat Valley, seated Avalokiteshvara (2)

7th-8th century, Swat Valley, Avalokiteshvara, copper alloy, private collection, photo by Koller.

7th-8th century, Swat Valley, Avalokiteshvara, copper alloy, private collection, photo by Koller.

This is an interesting sculpture of Avalokiteshvara in his padmapani form, holding a large lotus flower with six petals identical in design to his earrings, seated on a hassock with a cut-out floral design over a single lotus base, a leg pendant, the foot resting on what looks like a single lotus petal. He has silver-inlaid eyes and an effigy of Amitabha on the central panel of his three-leaf Kashmiri-style crown, behind which his hair is gathered in a fan shape.

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One of the many distinctive features of Swat Valley sculptures is that the ribbons of the crown are not normally flowing or arranged on each side of the head, they fall straight behind the head.

Undated, Swat Valley, Avalokiteshvara, brass, private collection, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

Undated, Swat Valley, Avalokiteshvara, brass, private collection, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

Another example of the bodhisattva seated on a hassock, meant to be made of wicker. There is a very large image of Amitabha in his headdress and a round lotus flower in his left hand.  We will note the way his dhoti is fastened at the front, with a large loop on each side of the knot, unusual for the area – as is the round face.

8th-9th century, Swat Valley, Avalokiteshvara, at the Palace Museum in Beijing.

8th-9th century (or later copy?), Swat Valley, Avalokiteshvara, at the Palace Museum in Beijing, published on gg-art.com.

A rare form of Avalokiteshvara, the lower right hand displays the gesture of generosity, the upper one holds a stem or a broken object, his lower left hand holds a pot of water, the upper one holds an unidentified object. The effigy of Amitabha in his headdress and the antelope skin over his shoulder leave no doubt as to his identity but the image doesn’t match any of his usual one-head and four-armed forms.

 

 

 

Swat Valley, seated Avalokiteshvara

Labelled 2nd-3rd century (more likely 7th-8th), Swat Valley, Avalokiteshvara, copper alloy, published on www.artsfromancientlands.

Labelled 2nd-3rd century (more likely 7th-8th), Swat Valley, Avalokiteshvara, copper alloy, published on http://www.artsfromancientlands.

This bodhisattva displays the abhaya mudra with his right hand while holding a pot of water in the other. He is adorned with a crown, large floral earrings and matching armbands, a beaded necklace and bangles, a sacred thread. The eyes are inlaid with silver and the lips and nipples with copper.

8th century, Swat Valley, Pakistan, Avalokiteshvara, dark bronze with silver inlay, photo by T. McCullough.

8th century, Swat Valley, Pakistan, Avalokiteshvara, dark bronze with silver inlay, T. McCullough collection.

This is Avalokiteshvara in his padmapani form (lotus bearer), seated on a lion throne with a leg pendant, holding a large lotus flower in his left hand and a small object, probably a flask, in the other. There is an effigy of Amitabha in his mitre-like crown. His elongated, wide-open eyes are inlaid with silver.

8th-9th century, Swat Valley, Pakistan, copper, zinc and tin alloy, at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (USA).

8th-9th century, Swat Valley, Pakistan, or Kashmir, Avalokiteshvara, copper, zinc and tin alloy, at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (USA).

The same padmapani with his right hand doing the varada mudra, seated in the vajra position

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The facial features, the fan-shaped hairstyle and the design of the double lotus base, with large pointed leaves, constricted in the middle and without a plinth, are all typical of the Swat Valley area.

8th century, Kashmir, Avalokiteshvara, bronze with silver inlay, at the Cleveland Museum of Art (USA).

8th century, labelled Kashmir, Avalokiteshvara, bronze with silver inlay, at the Cleveland Museum of Art (USA).

The above was published recently in the ‘Kashmir’ section with a remark about Swat Valley aspects – it certainly bears no resemblance with the other Kashmiri sculptures in that post.  Apart from the pleating of the dhoti and the way it is knotted, the colour of the metal, the fan-shaped hair etc., the way he holds the lotus in the palm of his hand is a distinctive feature which had been overlooked and which corresponds to the Swat Valley.

 

Swat Valley, seated buddhas

7th-8th century, Tara, Swat Valley, bronze, private collection, photo by Christie's.

7th-8th century, Tara, Swat Valley, bronze, private collection, photo by Christie’s.

In a previous post there was a sculpture of Tara (a female buddha) standing, with her left hand cupped as if to hold an object. We can see from this sculpture how the lotus is supported upright in the palm of her hand rather than between her fingers. She wears the same type of inverted U-shape tight-fitting bodice, over a finely pleated dhoti. Her right hand displays the gesture of supreme generosity.

7th-8th century, labelled Kashmir, Shakyamuni, bronze, private collection, published on www.liveauctioneers.com

7th-8th century, labelled Kashmir, Shakyamuni, bronze, private collection, published on http://www.liveauctioneers.com

Shakyamuni (the historical buddha) is seated on a Swat-Valley style throne supported by two lions – no yaksha in the middle –  with a tasseled cloth at the front. The square shape of the cloth and the horizontal row of tassels at the top are unusual but the robe with thick transversal pleating that covers both shoulders is typical of Swat Valley works and the hairstyle is reminiscent of earlier sculptures from Gandhara.

7th-8th century, Swat Valley, Vajrasttava, bronze, private collection, photo by Christie's.

7th-8th century, Swat Valley, Vajrasttava, bronze, private collection, photo by Christie’s.

Vajrasattva (an aspect of the supreme buddha) is seated in the vajra position, holding a thunderbolt sceptre (vajra) in his right hand at heart level and a bell against his left hip. His long dhoti is deeply incised with folds.

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He has silver-inlaid eyes and is adorned with a crown and jewellery, including large floral earrings and a necklace with flat squarish beads. Long strands of braided hair fall over his shoulders.

Swat Valley, 2 female deities

8th century, Swat Valley, female deity, bronze, private collection, photo by Christie's.

8th century, Swat Valley, female deity, bronze, private collection, photo by Christie’s.

This unidentified deity holds the stem of a lotus flower in one hand while the other rests over the hip. We have seen a few sculptures of Tara standing this way but with the lotus in the left hand and the other on the hip. Of course, the above photo may be the wrong way round, in which case we would be looking at Tara. Part of her hair is piled up on her head, the rest is braided and falls over her shoulders. She wears a necklace with squarish beads and matching earrings. There is a halo behind her head.

8th century, Swat Valley, Tara, bronze, private collection, published by Boran Asian Art

8th century, Swat Valley, Tara, bronze, private collection, published by Boran Asian Art on http://www.boranasianart.com.

This Tara has a very ornate and unusual hairstyle and headdress. She is adorned with beaded jewellery and a celestial scarf, and wears the tight-fitted bodice associated with Kashmir and the Swat Valley area and a pleated lower garment knotted at the waist. Her eyes are inlaid with silver. Her right hand is held out in the gesture of supreme generosity, the left hand is cupped to hold an object rather than the stem of a lotus as would be expected from Tara, but in the Swat Valley area she sometimes holds the stem upright in her hand.

 

Swat Valley area, various bodhisattvas – standing

6th century, Swat Valley, Avalokiteshvara, copper alloy, published by the Kapoor Gallery on asiantart.com

6th century, Swat Valley, Avalokiteshvara, bronze, published by the Kapoor Gallery on asiantart.com

This is a rare sculpture of Avalokiteshvara depicted as a child, with Chinese or Central Asian features,  standing on a plain plinth typical of the Kashmir region. This bodhisattva is easily identified through the effigy of Amitabha in his headdress and the (broken) lotus in his left hand. He does the fear-allaying gesture with the other.

7th century circa, Swat Valley, Pakistan, bodhisattva, at the National Museum in Karachi (Pakistan).

7th century circa, Swat Valley, Pakistan, bodhisattva, at the National Museum in Karachi (Pakistan).

This figure, dressed in a long pleated garment and a sash across the hips, does the abhaya mudra with his right hand and holds the long stem of a tall flower in the other. He is adorned with a three-leaf crown typical of the region, some earrings and a necklace with a large floral design. We may be looking at Avalokiteshvara in his padmapani form but the three-tier flower is different to the lotus he normally holds.

9th century, Swat Valley or Kashmir, Avalokiteshvara, brass with silver and copper inlay, private collection.

9th century, Swat Valley, Avalokiteshvara, brass with silver and copper inlay, private collection.

This bodhisattva, with silver-inlaid eyes and copper-inlaid lips, wears a long robe that covers both shoulders and is normally associated with the historical buddha. He carries a water pot in his left hand and the position of his right fingers suggests that he once held a rosary, two attributes that correspond to Avalokiteshvara.