Western Tibet, unidentified bodhisattva

11th century, Western Tibet, bodhisattva, brass, at the Ashmolean Museum (Oxford, UK)

11th century, Western Tibet, bodhisattva, brass, at the Ashmolean Museum (Oxford, UK).

11th c., Western Tibet, bodhisattva, brass, 18 cm, back

This is a curious sculpture, not least because of its backside! The head and chignon alone are about a third of the statue and the torso is tiny compared to the legs and arms. There are no attributes giving a clue as to his identity. He is wearing an Indian-style beaded belt, and as sash, over his transparent ankle-length dhoti. From the back we can appreciate his Indian hairstyle, but the large bows holding his crown and the flowing scarf acting as a sort of frame are West Tibetan features. He stands on a small single lotus base with wide flat petals going downwards. Bodhisattva Akashagarbha may have both hands doing the gesture of discussion (vitarka) but we would need a sun on his right shoulder and/or a book on his left shoulder to positively identify him.

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