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.
On other occasions there is a rhombus (diamond) in his palm – as on this sculpture with rather rigid legs and marked knee caps.
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.
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.
The sash is not always knotted on one side.
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.
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.
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.