Swat Valley, Vajrasattva on elephant throne

9th-11th century, Swat Valley, Vajrasattva, at the Walters Art Museum (US).

9th-11th century, Swat Valley, Vajrasattva, at the Walters Art Museum (US).

This very rare sculpture is labelled “Kashmir, Avalokiteshvara” but it depicts the supreme buddha Vajrasattva, in princely garments, seated in the lotus position on an elephant throne (specific to Vajrasattva and the dyani buddha Akshobhya), holding a thunderbolt or vajra against his heart and a bell or ghanta in his left hand, against his hip. The effigy of Amitabha in his crown is normally associated with Avalokiteshvara but it is not uncommon on Himalayan sculptures of Vajrasattva. The style of his crown and the tassels arranged in a trapezoidal shape at the front of the throne point to the Swat Valley area and the treatment of the face is very similar to that of a Swat Valley standing Tara dated 10th-11th century published in a previous post.

There seems to have been another figure  next to him, which makes the sculpture all the more singular.

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