Western Tibet, Avalokiteshvara – standing (3)

9th-10th century, Western Tibet, Avalokiteshvara, gilt copper alloy, private collection.

9th-10th century, Western Tibet, Avalokiteshvara, gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo by Christie’s.

This superb image must have been of special importance as it is rare for an early Kashmiri-style work to be gilt. The bodhisattva wears a tall crown with crescent moons secured with a rod at the back and decorated with tiny rosettes, side bows and particularly long undulating ribbons. He wears beaded jewellery, a matching belt and two different earrings, in the Indian fashion. He has thin separate eyebrows, no urna, silver-inlaid eyes, his hair is painted with lapis lazuli powder, his face and the ribbons of his crown with cold gold, following the Tibetan tradition. His lower garment, longer on one side, is decorated with an incised floral motif. The right hand does the gesture of generosity, the other is placed against his hip and the stem of a (broken) lotus flower passes through it. His (broken) garland looks like a thick tape rather than a string of flowers. He has a broad chest with well defined pectorals and nipples, a thin waist, a lobed abdomen with a cruciform navel, muscly legs with small knee caps, one leg straight, the other slightly open. A thin sacred thread goes along his left side and across his back.

11th century, Western Tibet, Avalokiteshvara, copper alloy, at the Phyi dbang monastery, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

11th century, Western Tibet, Avalokiteshvara, copper alloy, at the Phyi dbang monastery, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

Here, the bodhisattva wears an antelope skin over his left shoulder and knotted across his muscly chest. His body has realistic proportions, his legs stand rigidly with both feet straight. His right hand does the abhaya mudra (fear-allaying), the other holds the stem of an eight-petal lotus.

11th c., Western Tibet, Avalokiteshvara Padmapani, Kashmir school, close up

There is an effigy of buddha Amitahba in his crown. He has a fuller face, with thin v-shaped eyebrows that join together, topped with a raised urna inlaid with silver, like his eyes.

11th century, Western Tibet, Guge Kingdom, Avalokiteshvara, made in Ngari by a Kashmiri artist called Mati, copper alloy with tin, cold gold and pigments, at the Freer Sackler Gallery (USA).

11th century, Western Tibet, Guge Kingdom, Avalokiteshvara, made in Ngari by a Kashmiri artist called Mati, copper alloy with tin, cold gold and pigments, at the Freer Sackler Gallery (USA).

Still with a tall crown made of three crescent moons topped with a floral or a jewel design, but with a slender body and broader face, this image is a good example of the Guge style. Avalokiteshvara is adorned with floral earrings, a long garland of fresh flowers, a tall crown decorated with rosettes, large bows and long ribbons (with 3 pointed ends) that fall over his shoulder along some long strands of plaited hair. He holds a large ten-petal lotus in his left hand and a rosary in the other. His dhoti is richly incised and held in place with a beaded belt. The height of the head (from the chin to the crown) is superior to the height of his torso, this is a recurrent feature in early Western Tibet sculptures of bodhisattvas.

11th c., Western Tibet, Avalokiteshvara Padmapani, Guge, Kashmiri style, Amitabha in crown

There is an effigy of Amitabha in his crown. His eyebrows join together above the nose and extend to the temples. They are topped with a large raised urna.

11th c., Western Tibet, Avalokiteshvara Padmapani, Guge, antelope skin

The tiny antelope skin over his shoulder has a realistic head and horns.

11th century, Western Tibet, Avalokiteshvara, copper alloy with silver and copper inlay, at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (USA).

11th century, Western Tibet, Avalokiteshvara, copper alloy with silver and copper inlay, at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (USA).

The three-tooth pendant on his necklace is usually associated with Manjushri but this bodhisattva is identified as Avalokiteshvara because his isn’t a blue lotus and it isn’t topped with a manuscript. He has sharp facial features with silver-inlaid eyes and copper-inlaid lips. His lotus has eight thin pointed petals. The wavy ribbons of his crown have rounded ends. His garland is made of plaited vegetation rather than flowers. His transparent dhoti is held in place with an Indian-style beaded belt, the buckle matches his beaded floral armbands.

Same as before, private collection, photo by Sotheby's.

Same as before, private collection, photo by Sotheby’s.

12th-13th century (or earlier?), Western Tibet, Avalokiteshvara, copper alloy with cold gold, is or was at the gTsug Lakhang, published by Ulrich von Schroeder.

12th-13th century, Western Tibet, Avalokiteshvara, copper alloy with cold gold, is or was at the gTsug Lakhang, published by Ulrich von Schroeder.

Although his lotus is broken, Avalokiteshvara is easily identified here thanks to the effigy of Amitabha in his  large Kashmiri-style crown and the antelope skin over his left shoulder. His richly incised dhoti is held in place with a beaded belt and a ribbon with rosettes. He wears a different type of jewellery and his foliate garland is broader than on the previous works. He has a broad head with Tibetan facial features (generous lips and nose, large eyes, squarish facial contour) and a large raised urna inlaid with a missing stone (or coral), like the central part of his pendant.

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