Himachal Pradesh, two bodhisattvas

11th century, Himachal Pradesh, Kinnaur, Avalokiteshvara, brass, published by Dr Amy Heller.

11th century, Himachal Pradesh, Kinnaur, Avalokiteshvara, brass, published by Dr Amy Heller.

This is a one-head and four-arm form of Avalokiteshvara rarely seen in sculptures. The bodhisattva of compassion does the varada mudra (supreme generosity) with his lower right hand, the upper one holds a rosary, the other two hands hold the stem of a lotus and a manuscript – an attribute not normally associated with him. He wears very ornate floral jewellery, a three-leaf crown, a sacred thread, a foliate garland, an antelope skin over his left shoulder, a plain dhoti  held in place with a beaded belt, and possibly a celestial scarf.  The abnormally tall neck, thin waist and tubular legs contrast with the over-developed chest.

11th-12th century, Himachal Pradesh, Avalokiteshvara, brass,

11th-12th century, Himachal Pradesh, labelled Avalokiteshvara, brass, private collection, photo by Christie’s.

On the contrary, this bodhisattva has a short torso and long legs. Rather than Avalokiteshvara, this is likely to be Manjushri, identified through the blue lotus to his left and the manuscript on top (his right hand does the vitarka mudra, rarely seen on Himalayan sculptures of Avalokiteshvara or Manjushri). He wears a short dhoti with incised stripes, a long floral garland, a sacred thread…


and is adorned with an elaborate headdress inlaid with gemstones, large floral earrings, a short necklace and armbands. He has a round face with elongated eyes, which are incised rather than inlaid with silver.


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