Pala India, Avalokiteshvara – seated at royal ease

9th century, India, Bihar, Avalokiteshvara, copper alloy, private collection.

9th century, India, Bihar, Avalokiteshvara, copper alloy, private collection.

Complete with flaming mandorla and parasol, seated at royal ease on a double-lotus base over a plinth derived from the Northeast Indian tortoise pedestal, his right foot on a lotus, the right hand extended palm out, displaying what could be a gem, the left hand holding the root of a lotus flower, Avalokiteshvara is adorned with a small crown with side bows, his jatamukata topped with a finial, princely jewellery, a sacred thread and a thin sash across his chest. He has a broad nose and generous lips, his eyes are inlaid with silver.

9th-10th century, Northeast India, Avalokiteshvara, brass, is or was at the gTsug Lakhang in Lhasa, published by Ulrich von Schroeder.

9th-10th century, Northeast India, Avalokiteshvara, brass, is or was at the gTsug Lakhang in Lhasa, published by Ulrich von Schroeder.

This very similar image has an effigy of Amitabha in his headdress and his face and hair were painted with cold gold and pigments once in Tibet. On early Pala works the hair is arranged into a small chignon.

12th century, India, Avalokiteshvara, copper alloy with gold, silver and stone inlay, Nyingjei Lam collection, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

12th century, India, Avalokiteshvara, copper alloy with gold, silver and stone inlay, Nyingjei Lam collection, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

During the late Pala period the figures have a taller and more elaborate conical chignon (jatamukata), often with long curls cascading on the sides. The above is topped with a turquoise-inlaid jewel matching the front panel of his crown (stone missing). Unlike the previous two, this Avalokiteshvara has an ankle-lenth dhoti, richly incised with a floral pattern, and a prominent rectangular urna inlaid with gold. There is a lotus on each side of him. The large flat lotus base with broad petals has given way to the taller model with smaller petals and a row of thick beading at the bottom and a similar or smaller one at the top, so typical of the Pala style.

12th century, India, Avalokiteshvara, labelled simhanada, brass, private collection, published by Rossi & Rossi.

12th century, India, Avalokiteshvara, labelled simhanada, brass, private collection, published by Rossi & Rossi.

A variant of the royal ease’ position (lalitasana or rajalilasana) consists in the right knee being raised to support the right arm. (The simhanada form of this bodhisattva is also seated at royal ease, on a lion).

 

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