Padmapani, early Malla period (5)

13th century, Nepal, Avalokiteshvara, gilt copper and stone inlay, at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

13th century, Nepal, Avalokiteshvara, gilt copper and stone inlay, at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art.

Avalokiteshvara, especially in his padmapani form, is the bodhisattva most often depicted in Nepalese (and Tibetan) sculptures – usually with his right hand doing the varada mudra. This one displays a lotus flower embossed in the palm of his hand.

13th-14th century, same as before, at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts.

13th-14th century, same as before, at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts (USA).

On other occasions there is a rhombus (diamond) in his palm – as on this sculpture with rather rigid legs and marked knee caps.

13th-14th century, Nepal, Kathmandu Valley, Avalokiteshvara, gilt copper with stone inlay, published in Cast for Eternity on asianart.com,

13th-14th century, Nepal, Kathmandu Valley, Avalokiteshvara, gilt copper with stone inlay, published in Cast for Eternity on asianart.com.

Richly gilt and inlaid with stones, his body more fleshy and depicted in the elegant tribangha pose that makes it look alive and natural, his hair dyed black, this Padmapani  is typical of the works produced by Newar artists in the Kathmandu Valley. He is adorned with princely jewellery, a beaded sacred thread, studded belt and  broad sash knotted high up on the left hip. His short dhoti is decorated with a stippled floral motif and an incised hem. There is a clear stone cabochon at the centre of his earrings, armbands, floral anklets and eight-petal lotus.

Same as before, at the Fondation Alain Bordier (Switzerland).

Same as before, gilt copper and stones, at the Fondation Alain Bordier (Switzerland).

In most cases the pedestal and/or the lotus are missing or partly broken, but we can see how the lotus is normally attached to the base and passes through the left hand of the bodhisattva before being fastened to his elbow.

13th-14th century, Nepal, Avalokiteshvara, gilt copper or copper alloy, published by Rossi & Rossi.

13th-14th century, Nepal, Avalokiteshvara, gilt copper or copper alloy, published by Rossi & Rossi.

The sash is not always knotted on one side.

14th century, same as before, at the Freer Sackler Gallery (USA).

14th century, Nepal, Avalokiteshvara, gilt copper or copper alloy with gemstones, at the Freer Sackler Gallery (USA).

On early Malla works, the central panel of the crown often shows Kirtimukha. The lotus which the bodhisattva holds in his left hand has between six to twelve petals.

14th century, Nepal, Avalokiteshvara, gilt copper with stones, private collection, photo by Christie's.

14th century, Nepal, Avalokiteshvara, gilt copper with stones, private collection, photo by Christie’s.

14th c., Nepal, Padmapani, gilt c.+stones+pig., 26,5 cm, top, Christie's

Sometimes,  the ‘sprouting foliage’ is all that  remains from the Kirtimukha design, and the grotesque face is replaced by an ornate flower or another design.

14th c., Nepal, Padmapani, gilt c.+stones+pig., 26,5 cm, diamond in pal, pendant ribbon, Christie's

The design in  his palm may be a combination of the lotus and the diamond, i.e. a small flower inside a rhombus. His dhoti is usually decorated with an incised floral motif  and held in place with a belt studded with gems and with a long piece of pleated cloth at the front, often described as a pendant ribbon, with a pointed end.

 

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