Nepal, Thakuri Manjushri (peaceful)

11th century circa, Nepal, Manjushri, copper, private collection, photo by Sotheby's.

11th century circa, Nepal, Manjushri, copper, private collection, photo by Sotheby’s.

Manjushri stands on a double-lotus base with wide pointed petals, holding a manuscript in his left hand, adorned with jewellery including snake armbands, floral earrings and a matching necklace, dressed in a long dhoti held in place with a belt with a pendant in the middle. He wears a sacred thread and  a small sash across the thighs, knotted on one side. The folds of his dhoti form a zigzag shape at the front. But for a few long strands over his shoulders, the hair is tied into a fan shape (as on earlier Gandharan sculptures, but with a foliate design) and adorned with a low tiara.

11th century, Nepal, copper alloy with traces of gilding, private collection, photo by Christie's.

11th century, Nepal, copper alloy with traces of gilding, private collection, photo by Christie’s.

There is a number of similar Nepalese sculptures made of copper or a dark copper alloy that  depict Manjushri seated in the vajra position, wearing a tall three-leaf crown with ornate panels, a sash across the chest, foliate armbands, bracelets, earrings and a necklace. This style has also been used by Nepalese artists in Tibet (several works portrait him with one leg unfolded) and for dyani buddhas. In this case, Manjushri is identified through the three-tooth pendant and the manuscript he holds in his hands.

11th-12th century, Nepal, Kathmandu Valley, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (USA).

11th-12th century, Nepal, Kathmandu Valley, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art (USA).

Eventually the crown evolved and the panels were no longer going inwards. The above is seated on a throne supported by two snow lions. There is a manuscript in his hands.

11th c., Nepal, Manjushri, gilt cop. inlaid with rubies, Lacma

11th century, Nepal, Manjushri, copper inlaid with rubies, at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

This is a another style, with a different crown and matching jewellery, a sacred thread, no sash. He sits on a thick cushion decorated with an incised floral pattern, his right foot resting on a lotus, his hands doing the dharmacakra mudra. Although there is no book in his left hand, the fact that he has one leg unfolded indicates that this is likely to be Manjushri rather than Vairocana.

11th century, Nepal, Manjushri, gilt copper alloy with cold gold and pigments, private collection, published by Carlo Cristi.

11th century, Nepal, Manjushri, gilt copper alloy with cold gold and pigments, private collection, published by Carlo Cristi.

White Manjushri holds his right hand in the abhaya mudra (fear-allaying gesture), his left hand casually resting on the double-lotus base with very wide pointed petals arranged in alternate rows. There is a manuscript atop a long-stemmed lotus to his left. His ankle-length dhoti is richly decorated with an incised motif and held in place with a belt inlaid with a gem. His face has been painted with cold gold and his hair (which he wears tied in a bunch and adorned with a gold finial and a lotus chain) has been dyed with lapis lazuli powder, which suggests the sculpture has been worshipped in Tibet at some stage.

12th century, Nepal, Manjushri, gilt silver, Nyingjeil Lam collection on Himalayan Art Resources.

12th century, Nepal, Manjushri, gilt silver, Nyingjei Lam collection on Himalayan Art Resources.

On this rare silver sculpture, Manjushri holds the stem of a blue lotus in his left hand and a small manuscript in the palm of his right hand. We will notice that the fingers and the toes are clearly separated, as on later Khasa Malla sculptures from Nepal.

12th c., Nepal, Manjushri, gilt silver, close up, Nyingjei Lam col

He has moon-like facial features that recall Tibetan works, large round earrings and a necklace with a central three-tooth pendant, a floral hair adornment.

12th c., Nepal, Manjushri, gilt silver, reverse, Nyingjei Lam col.

Traditionally, in Nepal and Tibet Manjushri wears part of his hair tied into a bunch and the rest fastened like two ponytails.

 

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