Nepal, 9th c. Padmapani

9th century, Nepal, bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara Padmapani, copper alloy, at the Walters Museum (USA)

9th century, Nepal, bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara Padmapani, copper alloy, at the Walters Museum (USA).

This  statue is very similar in style to a 9th century Nepalese buddha published in a previous post. Both stand on a semi-spherical base with lotus petals going upwards and they have a small halo shaped like a horse shoe with a pointed end, with engraved rather than indented flames. The small effigy of Amitabha in his crown tells us that this is bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara, and the way he holds his left hand indicates that he was probably holding a long-stemmed lotus, now missing.

The Licchavi period goes from the 5th century to 879 AD (some say 750), after which the Thakury dynasty took over, but, obviously, a change of rulers doesn’t affect artistic production overnight, especially if art is still produced by the local population. It is therefore very difficult to distinguish some late Licchavi period statues from early Thakury ones, unless there is an inscription on the base, even if you are well acquainted with the shape of the crowns and  adornments of the time. Early Licchavi sculptures of bodhisattvas are easier to identify as they stand out for their sobriety and the crowns are a different shape.

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