Tibet, a mysterious bodhisattva

Undated, Tibet, unknown bodhisattva, cast silver, published by Ian Alsop

Undated, Tibet, unknown bodhisattva, cast silver, published by Ian Alsop

This statue is so unusual that it is difficult to give it a name or a date. Ian Alsop gives a 14th-16th century dating and suggests this could be the bodhisattva and buddha of the future, Maitreya, because of the position of the arms and hands. However, Maitreya normally has a stupa in his head dress or on top of his head but this bodhisattva’s crown is adorned with Kirtimukha, ‘The face of Glory’, particularly popular in Nepal.

Instead of the usual large hoops worn by most Himalayan deities, he wears some squarish ones, more in the style of those of the famous Phagpa Lokeshvara statue kept at the Potala (and subsequent copies) made in Nepal in the 7th century. His dhoti is short on one side and long on the other in the West Tibetan fashion, although in a more exaggerated way.

There are few silver statues from Tibet and they range from 11th to 18th century, which doesn’t help with the dating either.

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