Tibet, a Pala-style bodhisattva

13th century, Tibet, bodhisattva, copper alloy and cold gold, at the Victoria & Albert Museum (London, UK).

13th century, Tibet, bodhisattva, copper alloy and cold gold on the face, at the Victoria & Albert Museum (London, UK).

Because of the way he holds his right hand and because of the long-stemmed lotus (now broken) in his left hand, this could be Avalokiteshvara in his padmapani form, who doesn’t always have an effigy of Amitabha in his headdress. He stands on a stepped double-lotus base with beading at the top inspired from the (earlier) Pala style. This type of ‘Pala-revival’ base is sometimes seen on works dated 14th or 15th century or later, therefore it may not be the original base. His missing crown reveals a tall Pala-style chignon with traces of blue pigment, also visible on the strands of hair over his shoulders. He is wearing the standard princely jewellery and large bows, his transparent ankle-length dhoti is held in place with a belt and he also wears a long garment at the back which gently folds at ankle level.

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