Western Tibet, Avalokiteshvara Shadbhuja

11th century circa, Western Tibet, bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara Shadbhuja, brass with pigments, at the gTsug Lakhang, published by Ulrich von Schroeder.

11th century circa, Western Tibet, bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara Shadbhuja (6 arms), Kashmir school, brass with pigments, published by Ulrich von Schroeder.

Labelled Avalokiteshvara, this bodhisattva could also be Amoghapasha Lokeshvara. He is sitting on a lion throne backed with a Kashmir-style double mandorla with incised flames, his left foot resting on a lotus flower. The effigy of Amitabha in the central panel of his small crown and the antelope skin resting on his left shoulder and knotted across his chest are features common to both deities. He has a tall Indian-style chignon and several strands of hair falling over his shoulders on both sides. The abdomen is vaguely “lobed” in the Kashmiri fashion but the navel is a large punched hole rather than the usual cruciform shape. He is wearing an incised dhoti that reaches below knee level, held in place with a belt, some simple jewellery – no anklets, a thick garland typical of Western Tibet and several attributes in his hands (lasso, thunderbolt, fly whisk in his right hands, pot of water, lotus and vajra-hook in the others), which  are  the attributes of Amoghapasha Lokeshvara. Generally thought to be an aspect of Avalokiteshvara, Amoghapasha is regarded by some experts as a different deity (see Jeff Watts’s comments on the Rubin Museum Art website, the link is in the left-hand column).

The face, with wider features than Kashmiri ones, has been painted with cold gold and the hair with lapis lazuli powder, in the Tibetan fashion.

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s