Mongolia, Shadakshari Lokeshvara

18th century, Mongolia, bodhisattva Shadakshari Lokeshvara, gilt copper alloy and pigments, school of Zanabazar, private collection

18th century, Mongolia, bodhisattva Shadakshari Lokeshvara, gilt copper alloy and pigments, school of Zanabazar, private collection

This aspect of bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara has four hands, two held together, one holding a lotus and the other holding prayer beads. 18th century Mongolian statues are always richly gilt and often sit on a double lotus base itself resting on a slightly wider base made of  several layers either plain, beaded or engraved. The face is normally decorated with red pigment on the lips and blue or black pigment on the hair.

The large lotus flower, jewellery and  belt are unusual, especially the acorn-like beads. The hem of his dhoti or lower garment is decorated with scrolls.

On the Himalayan Art Resources website, it is explained that the term Shadakshari Lokeshvara actually refers to a female attendant to the bodhisattva, who is himself called Avalokiteshvara Chaturbhuja, i.e. with four arms. To add to the confusion,  in some countries Avalokiteshvara is a female deity.

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