An inscription on the base of this sculpture identifies him as Atisha, the famous Indian teacher. He is seated in the vajra position, his hands doing the ‘turning-the-wheel- of- dharma’ gesture (dharmacakra mudra), dressed in monastic robes with smooth folds and rounded hems that indicate a Chinese influence, his head topped with his traditional pandita hat. His smiling face has been painted with cold gold and pigments.
The elongated torso on this one points to the 17th century but the lotus base corresponds to an earlier style. His right hand does the vitarka mudra (debate, teaching) and the left hand does the dhyana mudra (meditation).
The teacher is seated on an animal skin, over a double-lotus base, his red pandita hat topped with a lotus-bud finial, a large urn to his left, a bell with a crescent moon and sun disc handle to his right, both on a small lotus stand, his upper garment covering both shoulders.
17th-18th century, Tibet, Atisha, gilt copper alloy and pigments, at the Newark Museum (USA).
Atisha is seated on a couple of cushions covered with a blanket, surrounded by two lotuses that support a bell with a crescent moon and a sun disc handle to the right and a round urn to the left.
The conical part of his hat is unusually tiered, the rest is finely incised like the hem his garments. His skin and facial features are painted with cold gold and with pigments. We have seen this contrast between the bright hue of the lavish gilding and the darker colour of the face on some Mongolian works made around the 17th century.