Avalokiteshvara – Padmapani, two mixed styles

11th century, possibly Himachal Pradesh, Avalokiteshvara Padmapani, at the Rubin Museum of Art.

11th century, Himachal Pradesh or Western Tibet, Avalokiteshvara Padmapani, at the Rubin Museum of Art.

Avalokiteshvara is identified thanks to the large effigy of Amitabha at the front of his crown, the antelope skin over his left shoulder and the lotus flower he holds (which signals his padmapani or ‘lotus-bearer’ form). The single-lotus base and plinth on which he stands and the flat wavy celestial scarf are similar to 10th-11th century Himachal Pradesh sculptures published in previous posts. His tubular legs with prominent knee caps and his tall crown are reminiscent of a giant sculpture of Maitreya carved into the rock in the Chamba region and thought to date from the 7th or 8th century. He has a muscly Kashmiri-style torso, adorned with a necklace. His short dhoti, richly incised with stripes and lotus flowers, is slightly longer on one side, in the West Tibetan fashion. He has a prominent urna and very thin eyebrows over is elongated eyes.

11th c., Himachal Pradesh?, Padmapani, lotus

His lotus-flower earrings match the lotus flowers on each side of his crown (usually described as rosettes). The singular flaming mandorla behind him, topped with another (larger) lotus, appears to be a mixture of the Indian and the Kashmiri shapes.

14th century, Tibet?, Avalokiteshvara Padmapani, brass, at the Rubin Museum of Art (USA).

14th century, Tibet, Avalokiteshvara Padmapani, brass and pigment, at the Rubin Museum of Art (USA).

Chepu in crown

Apart from an effigy of Amitabha in his crown, an antelope skin over his shoulders and a lotus flower in his left hand, this figure has Kirtimukkha in his crown, something proper to Tibet and Nepal, where it is known as Chepu. The muscly Kashmir-style torso, the engraved dhoti shorter on one side, the garland of flowers, correspond to Western Tibet.

14th c., Tibet, Padmapani, metal+pig., face, Rubin

The use of red pigment was common in the Khasa Malla kingdom in Western Nepal/Western Tibet. The facial features and large hoops recall Nepalese sculptures of the same Malla period but the eyes are inlaid with silver, in the Kashmiri fashion.

 

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