Late Malla Avalokiteshvara – unusual

17th century, Nepal, Avalokiteshvara, gilt copper alloy with turquoise and pigments, published by Marcel Nies on asianart.com

17th century, Nepal, Avalokiteshvara, gilt copper alloy with turquoise and pigments, published by Marcel Nies on asianart.com

This eleven-head Avalokiteshvara has 10 hands instead of eight, a feature specific to Nepal. His main hands are in prayer at heart level holding  a wish-granting gem. The other right hands hold a dharma wheel, a rosary and an effigy of Amitabha, the lower one displays the varada mudra. In the remaining left hands he holds a flaming pearl, a  vase of immortality, a bow and arrow, a lotus flower.

17th-18th c., Nepal, Padmapani, rock crystal, private collection, published on castor-hara.com

17th-18th c., Nepal, Padmapani, rock crystal, private collection, published on castor-hara.com.

Both in Tibet and Nepal, rock crystal sculptures of Avalokiteshara are few and usually late works. This one is adorned with a tiara,  a V-shaped necklace typical of the Late Malla period, matching armbands, two bracelets, a sacred thread,  earrings shaped like lotus buds. He wears a short dhoti held in place with a belt and a sash worn diagonally and knotted to one side. The short legs and big feet are in contrast with the upper part of the body and the fine facial features, pointing to a late date within the Malla period.

Late 17th century, Nepal, Avalokiteshvara, gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo by Sotheby's.

Late 17th century, Nepal, Avalokiteshvara, gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo by Sotheby’s.

Avalokiteshvara is seated  in a relaxed manner, his right hand resting over his knee, the left one leaning on the double lotus base. There is an antelope skin knotted across his chest, an effigy of Amitabha in his chignon, a long-stem lotus to his left, all of which correspond to the popular padmapani form although he wears no crown or jewellery but for a small necklace (like much earlier Himalayan sculptures, in particular from the Swat Valley).

18th century, Nepal, Avalokiteshvara, gilt copper alloy, at the San Francisco Asian Art Museum (USA).

18th century, Nepal, Avalokiteshvara, gilt copper alloy, at the San Francisco Asian Art Museum (USA).

This image, adorned with large floral jewellery inlaid with stones, shows him displaying the vitarka mudra with his right hand and holding a pot of water in the other (in the manner of Gandharan works),  an attribute not normally seen on Nepalese sculptures of this bodhisattva.

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