Tibet, White Manjushri – standing (2)

Undated (11th century cir.?), Western Tibet, Manjushri, copper alloy with cold gold, private collection, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

This Kashmiri-style sculpture depicts the bodhisattva of wisdom standing on a lotus over a stepped plinth, holding a blue lotus topped with a manuscript, his right hand held out in the fear-allaying gesture.

The top of the flaming mandorla behind him is decorated with a stupa (normally associated with Maitreya), some ribbons, a lotus, a crescent moon+sun symbol.

12th century circa, Tibet or Northeast India, copper alloy, private collection, photo by Rossi & Rossi.

The exaggeratedly tall foliate panels of the crown (with a rod at the back to secure them), the short lower garment and the soft facial features suggest that this late Pala-style sculpture was made by an Indian artist in Tibet or India for a Tibetan patron. The overall gilding is unusual for the period, both in Northeast India and Tibet.

12th-13th century, Western Tibet, copper alloy with cold gold and blue pigment, private collection, photo by www.castor-hara.com.

This Manjushri wears a crown made of three crescent moons, with side bows and flowing ribbons, some jewellery including a large floral necklace and matching armbands, a festooned belt with a lotus bud pendant at the front. There is a non-identified object in the palm of his right hand. Apart from the blue lotus topped with a manuscript, his other attribute, when peaceful, is the hilt of a sword coming out of another lotus, to his right. (We have  seen one West Tibetan example, from the Ashmolean Museum, holding a conch).

Possibly 14th century, Western Tibet, Manjushri, copper alloy, private collection, published on http://www.buddhacollectors.com

Many early Tibetan sculptures are singular (possibly because the artist didn’t have an original sculpture to work from) some of them are even clumsy, like the above, inspired by Indian Pala art (style of the lotus pedestal, exaggeratedly tall chignon and low tiara, punched navel, long dhoti). The head,  lotus and book are oversized, as is often the case with works from Western Tibet.

15th century, Tibet, Manjushri, gilt copper alloy and turquoise inlay, private collection, photo by Lempertz.

This later figure includes elements borrowed from Newari art (gilding all over, foliate crown with five panels including a simplified Kirtimukha design at the front, ear loops with a lotus sprouting from them, short lower garment with semi-circular sash knotted to the left, belt with long pendant at the front).

The blue lotus to his left supports the Prajnaparamita sutra and the hilt of a sword.

17th century, Tibet, Manjushri, gilt copper alloy with stone inlay and pigments, private collection, photo by Christie’s.

This Manjushri with Chinese-style facial features wears a long skirt-like embroidered silk garment held in place with a festooned belt, a long celestial scarf with fluttering ends, princely jewellery studded with turquoise and clear gems, like his belt. He does the ‘turning the wheel of dharma‘  gesture and holds the stem of a blue lotus supporting a tiny manuscript and the flaming hilt of a rather large sword.

 

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