Tibet, 11-head Avalokiteshvara (3)

12th century circa, Western Tibet, brass, is or was at the gTsug Lakhang, published by Ulrich von Schroeder.

Circa 12th century, Western Tibet, brass, is or was at the gTsug Lakhang, published by Ulrich von Schroeder.

In the previous post there were two very similar sculptures of Manjushri, standing on the same type of Kashmiri-style throne with a flaming mandorla equally topped with Kirtimukha. This is Avalokiteshvara, with eleven heads and six hands, the left ones holding a water pot, a long-stemmed lotus and another attribute (usually a bow). His top right hand holds a fly whisk, the other two do the vitarka and the varada mudras. He wears an antelope skin knotted across his chest, the head of the animal hanging over his left shoulder.

13th century circa, Tibet, polychrome wood, private collection, photo by Christie's.

Circa 13th century, Tibet, polychrome wood, private collection, photo by Christie’s.

When depicted with 8 arms, his main hands do the prayer mudra and normally hold an effigy of Amitabha.

13th c. cir., Tibet, Eleven-head Avalokiteshvara, polyc. wood, 97,5 cm, close up

This one, made of wood (a tradition that came from Nepal as early as the 7th century) is adorned with very large earrings, simple jewellery and a garland. The head of the antelope skin rests over his shoulder.

13th c. cir., Tibet, Eleven-head Avalokiteshvara, polyc. wood, 97,5 cm, pot of water

He wears a Nepalese-style garment shaped like a skirt and holds a ritual water pot in his lower left hand. There is a flower incised in the palm of his other hand.

14th century, Western Tibet, gilt copper alloy with silver, copper and stone inlay, at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

14th century, Western Tibet, gilt copper alloy with silver, copper and stone inlay, at the Philadelphia Museum of Art.

In his 1000-arm form, Avalokiteshvara has 8 arms as on the previous image and a circle of arms behind him with the hands doing the karana/tarjani mudra. There are some eyes in the palm of his hands and one of them usually holds a lotus.

15th century, Tibet, gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo by Christie's.

15th century, Tibet, gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo by Christie’s.

On this sculpture, two of his hands hold a long celestial scarf which acts as a frame and one of his upper hands holds a flower.

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