Tibet, a rare 11-head Avalokiteshvara

Circa 1500, Tibet, bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara, gilt copper alloy, published by Carlton Rochell

Circa 1500, Tibet, bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara, gilt copper alloy with stone inlay, published by Carlton Rochell.

This sculpture is very rare because when represented with 11 heads (9 bodhisattva heads, 1 Mahakala head, 1 buddha Amitabha head on top) Avalokiteshvara normally stands up. The aesthetics of it correspond to the Nepalese style, including the tall rectangular urna on his forehead. He has 4 pairs of hands, one in prayer, the others holding his attributes (a water pot, a bow and arrow and a lotus flower in his left hands, a dharma wheel, a rosary and an image of Amitabha in his right hands – the last two are missing on this one). His jewellery and crown are richly inlaid with turquoise and lapis lazuli stones.

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