Tibet, 11-head Avalokiteshvara (2)

15th century, brass, private collection on Himalayan Art Resources.

15th century, brass, private collection on Himalayan Art Resources.

When depicted with 11 heads and 8 arms, Avalokiteshvara normally has 3 rows of peaceful heads stacked on one another+ Mahakala’s head+ buddha Amitabha’s head. His main hands are in a prayer gesture at heart level, he has a lotus, a bow and a water pot in the remaining left hands, a rosary, dharma wheel in the top right hands, the lower one is along his body, palm open, doing the gesture of generosity.

15th c., Tibet, 11-head Avalokiteshvara, brass, incised dhoti

His long dhoti is  incised with a lotus motif and held in place with a festooned belt, the folds of the garment form a regular zig-zag shape down the front. It is complemented by a broad sash and a thin celestial scarf with similar pleating that ends in a three-point shape.

15th century, bronze with

15th century, Tibet, copper alloy with silver, copper and stone inlay, photo by Rossi & Rossi.

Occasionally, there may be a row of wrathful faces above the first row of peaceful ones, as on the above sculpture (all attributes missing).

16th century, Tibet, gilt copper alloy with pigment and turquoise inlay, at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

16th century, Central Tibet, gilt copper alloy with pigment and turquoise inlay, at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

16th c., Central Tibet, 11-head Avalokiteshvara, antelope skin

He may have an antelope skin over his left shoulder. The black antelope skin is a symbol of Hindu origin. Avalokiteshvara wears it as a symbol of his love and compassion (in his bodhisattva appearance, Maitreya also wears one).

17th-18th century, Tibet, bronze with cold gold, pigment and stone inlay, at the Chicago

17th-18th century, Eastern Tibet, copper alloy with cold gold, pigment and stone inlay, at the Art Institute of Chicago.

This statue from Eastern Tibet displays Chinese features, especially in the treatment of the face but also in the draping, the style of the jewellery and the belt.

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