Nepal, Thakuri Avalokiteshvara (1)

9th-10th century, Nepal, Avalokiteshvara,

9th-10th century, Nepal, Avalokiteshvara,

Avalokiteshvara wears a mitre-like crown with an effigy of Amitabha on the front panel, a lower garment resembling a long skirt and held in place with a belt, a sash across his hips knotted on one side, some simple jewellery and a sacred thread.

10th century, Nepal, Avalokiteshvara, gilt copper, photo by Christie's.

10th century, Nepal, Avalokiteshvara, gilt copper, photo by Christie’s.

This sculpture depicts him standing on a  double-lotus base with wide flat petals overlapping, typical of Nepalese works. He does the vitarka or discussion/debate gesture with his right hand and holds the stem of lotus buds in his left hand. His see-through lower garment, gathered in a zig-zag shape at the front, shows fell-formed legs and knees that contrast with his rather square feet, narrow waist and under-developed chest.  There is a broad sash across his hips knotted on one side. His mitre-like crown is proper to the Thakuri period. The  three-teeth pendant he wears is more often seen on sculptures of bodhisattva Manjushri. Some long strands of curly hair fall onto his shoulders.

11th century, Nepal, Avalokiteshvara, copper with cold gold, photo by Koller.

11th century, Nepal, Avalokiteshvara, copper with cold gold, photo by Koller.

The dhoti on this one is incised with a lotus motif. We will notice the same unrealistic body proportions and very large nipples.

10th-11th century, Nepal, Avalokiteshvara, gilt copper alloy and stones, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (USA).

10th-11th century, Nepal, Avalokiteshvara, gilt copper alloy and stones, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (USA).

This is more like a transition between the Thakuri period –  when sculptures of bodhisattvas begin to include stone inlay and the zig-zag folds of the lower garment at the front, and the broad sash knotted to one side, are a standard characteristic-  and the Malla period, when the waist gracefully leans to one side and the lower garment is usually decorated with a similar lotus motif. Unlike the mitre-like design seen above, his crown has a taller and broader front panel decorated with a foliage motif often seen on 11th century Nepalese works. He has an Indian-style gaze, sharp nose and small mouth.

Same as before, private collection.

Same as before, private collection.

We will notice the halo going from the shoulders to just above the mitre-like crown (both typical of the Nepalese Thakuri period), the unusual lotus bud, the uneven length of the lower garment and the Kashmiri-style pleating of the cloth. He stands on a typical Nepalese double-lotus base with flat wide petals overlapping.

12th century, Nepal, Avalokiteshvara, gilt copper alloy, at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

12th century, Nepal, Avalokiteshvara, gilt copper alloy, at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

Although the base is missing, his gentle face with generous lips and eyes cast down, along with the shape of the crown, the zig-zag fold of he lower garment and the broad sash knotted to one side, all point to a Nepalese sculpture from the Thakuri period.

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