Pala India, two Padmapani statues

8th-11th century Eastern India, bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara Padmapani, copper alloy, at the British Museum (London)

10th-11th century Eastern India, bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara Padmapani, copper alloy, at the British Museum (London)

Avalokiteshvara is identified thanks to the small sitting buddha in his headdress. The   long-stemmed lotus he is holding further identifies him as  the  “Padmapani” aspect of Avalokiteshvara, i.e. “the lotus bearer”. The cushion-shaped lotus pedestal on which he is standing is uncommon for Pala Indian works, so is the halo with the curly irregular flames sticking out.

11th century circa, Northeast India, bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara Padmapani, copper alloy and pigments, at the Tsug Lakhang, published by Ulrich von Schroeder

11th century circa, Northeast India, bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara Padmapani, copper alloy and pigments, at the gTsug Lakhang, Lhasa, published by Ulrich von Schroeder.

Here the bodhisattva stands on one of the lotus base designs common to Pala India, and wears the  tall chignon and beaded belt and jewellery typical of that period. His three-leaf crown is somewhat taller than normal, the chignon is topped with a figure that could be Kirtimukkha, the face of glory. His facial features (small pointed nose, small eyes and mouth) are typically Indian but the face has been painted with cold gold and his hair has been covered with blue pigment, in the Tibetan fashion. His ankle-length dhoti is finely incised with a floral pattern. The billowing scarf and the large bows and upward ribbons that hold his crown are often seen on  West Tibetan sculptures of bodhisattvas of the same period or a little later.

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