Kashmir, Avalokitesvara (4)

10th-11th century, Kashmir, (Avalokiteshvara) Padmapani, bronze with electrum, private collection, photo on Marcel Nies .

Surrounded by an elegant flaming mandorla decorated with mythical creatures and flowers, Avalokiteshvara holds the stem of a large lotus in his left hand while doing an unusual gesture with the right hand, thus displaying rings on two of his fingers.

There is an elaborate effigy of Amitabha at the front of his crown and the skin of an antelope over his left shoulder. His wide-open almond-shaped eyes inlaid with silver are reminiscent of works from Himachal Pradesh seen in previous posts.

10th-11th century, Kashmir, Padmapani, bronze with traces of gilding and pigment (added later), private collection, photo on Sotheby’s .

Standing on a lotus atop a stepped plinth, Avalokiteshvara in his padmapani form, with an effigy of Amitabha in his headdress, a small antelope skin over his left shoulder and a large lotus in his left hand, the right hand is held in the fear-allaying gesture. His short dhoti is decorated with an incised and stippled motif. The cold gold and lapis lazuli powder suggest that the statue was worshipped in Tibet.  We saw a similar tear-shaped nimbus with deeply engraved curly flames along the edge here.

Kashmir, various buddhas (3)

8th century, Kashmir, Buddha with Avalokiteshvara and Maitreya, chlorite, private collection, photo on Sotheby’s , Arts d’Asie 2012.

The historical buddha, preaching, is flanked by Maitreya to his right, holding a water pot in his left hand, and Avalokiteshvara to his left, holding a long-stemmed lotus, both bodhisattvas standing on a small lotus stemming from the main stalk supporting Shakyamuni’s cushion. Each character has a nimbus with a beaded edge.

9th-10th century, Kashmir or Central Asia, Vairocana and Eight Bodhisattvas, wood with traces of polychromy, at the Nelson Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City (USA) (which labels it ‘Chinese, Tang Dynasty’), photo here for Buddhist Art of Kashmir and its legacies at The Rubin Museum of Art.

A portable shrine with Vairocana surrounded by bodhisattvas, two apsaras holding a canopy above his head, a kneeling monk below his throne, wrathful and peaceful characters on the side panels.

Circa 11th century, Kashmir or Kashmir school in Western Tibet, bronze with stone inlay, is or was at Cherné Monastery, photo by  Dr Chiara Bellini  .

A Kashmiri-style buddha with unusual features, such as the broad face with a stone-inlaid urna, the semi-closed eyes without silver inlay, the lacy edge of his robe covering his right shoulder.

Circa 11th century, Kashmir, Bhaisajyaguru, copper with silver eyes, is or was at the Triksé monastery in Ladakh, photo by Chiara Bellini as before.

The main buddha of medicine displays an arura fruit in the palm of his right hand while the other is cupped to support a bowl or a medicine jar, now lost. This sculpture has similarities with various works seen before and attributed to Ladakh: the facial features, especially the thin unibrow with no urna above, the long strip of cloth with pointed edges over the left shoulder and down to the breast, the piece of robe covering the right shoulder, the hem incised with a rice grain pattern,  the shape of the stepped throne and the position of the lions that support it. Outside Nepal, the use of pure copper is unusual.

Circa 11th century, Kashmir, Shakyamuni, copper, at the museum of Triksé monastery in Ladakh, photo by Chiara Bellini as above.

Kashmir, various bodhisattvas (6)

10th-11th century, Kashmir, Avalokiteshvara, possibly silver, Stok Palace Museum in Leh (ancient Tibetan kingdom of Ladakh, presently India), published by Chiara Bellini on academia.edu.

Avalokiteshvara in his padmapani form, which in Himalayan art usually includes an antelope skin over his left shoulder and an effigy of Amitabha in his headdress, as above. He stands on a single lotus, his right hand in the gesture to dispel fear, the other holding his main attribute. The backplate with a nimbus filled with a large flower is possibly from Himachal Pradesh. His sharp facial features, with semi-closed slanted eyes, V-shaped mouth and high cheekbones, and his very showy headdress are quite different from standard Kashmiri sculptures (see below).

Circa 11th century, Kashmir, Avalokiteshvara, brass with cold gold, is or was at the Chemre monastery in Ladakh, photo by Michael Henss, 1980.

Undated (circa 11th century), Kashmir (labelled ‘India’), Manjushri, Arapachana, brass with silver eyes, photo on HAR

Seated on a double-lotus base with large ‘artichoke’ leaves proper to Kashmir and Swat Valley art, his legs not quite locked, Manjushri in his arapachana form brandishes a flaming sword and holds a manuscript vertically before his heart.

Circa 10th century, Kashmir, Maitreya, brass, at the Rietberg Museum in Zürich (Switzerland), photo by Pratapaditya Pal, 1975.

Maitreya as the future buddha, seated with both legs pendents atop a throne supported by recumbent lions, his hands ‘turning the wheel of the law’, the flaming arch behind him topped with streamers.

Kashmir, various bodhisattvas (5)

7th-8th century, Kashmir, Manjushri, brass with silver and copper inlay, Arthur M. Sackler Museum in Harvard University (USA), photo by Daderot on Harvard

A rare sculpture of Manjushri with silver-inlaid eyes and (missing) urna, copper-inlaid lips, wearing a dhoti longer on one side and decorated with a lotus print inlaid with silver and copper. The lotus on the palm of his right hand, the buckle on his belt and parts of his other accessories are inlaid with silver. He holds a flower topped with the Prajnaparamita sutra and his adorned with a Kashmiri-style crown with a crescent moon design, floral earrings, beaded accessories including a garland.

9th century, Kashmir, Vajradharma Lokeshvara (labelled ‘Rakta Lokeshvara’), bronze with silver and copper inlay, at the National Museum in New Delhi (India).

Avalokiteshvara, identified by the effigy of Amitabha in his headdress and the antelope skin over his left shoulder, plucks with his right hand the lotus he holds in the other. Known as Vajradharma Lokeshvara, this form of the bodhisattva may also have 4 hands (the other two holding a bow and an arrow).

11th century, Kashmir artist in Western Tibet, Avalokiteshvara, brass, belonged to Nagaraja, private collection, photo on HAR,

One of a group of brass sculptures commissioned by prince Nagaraja (Guge kindgom). They all have the same lotus pedestal and stepped plinth, flaming mandorla, flat celestial scarf incised with stripes and with fishtail ends, diaphanous dhoti much shorter and pleated on the left, the other side ending in a long pointed shape close to the base, held in place with a beaded belt with a floral buckle. They all have a delicate face with silver-inlaid eyes, and the above has an effigy of Amitabha in his headdress.

Kashmir, seated buddhas (8)

Unlabelled (Kashmir, Shakyamuni, brass with silver-inlaid eyes and urna), private collection, photo on Himalayan Art Resources   

The historical buddha is seated on a double-lotus seat whose petals are like artichoke leaves with the tip upturned. This and the concentric pleats of his sanghati recall several 7th century Kashmiri works seen in previous posts yet there are quite a few different elements. For instance, the way the cloth forms a straight line across the chest and over the left shoulder, the large flat nipples (one of them showing through the transparent garment), the throne supported by two lions lying sideways and, instead of the usual yaksha, the upper part of a crowned figure who holds a skull cup containing a flaming jewel (see close up on the above link).  

7th-8th century, Kashmir (labelled ‘India’), Shakyamuni, bronze (copper alloy) with cold gold and pigments (and silver-inlaid eyes), at the State Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg (Russia).

This buddha also holds a piece of his robe in front of him (rather than to the left side as was often the case on Karkota dynasty sculptures) and his skin has been painted with cold gold all over, suggesting worship in China (rather than Tibet, where only the face would be painted).

8th century, Kashmir, Fasting Buddha, ivory, at the Cleveland Museum of Art (USA).

Siddharta Gautama appears three times on this small (12 cm) yet detailed sculpture. At the centre, seated with his legs locked and his hands in the meditation gesture, naked and terribly emaciated after a long fast. On the left of the viewer, in an awkward yogic posture, his head turned away from the bowl of rice a woman below is offering him. On the other side, less emaciated now that he has given up the fast, and wearing a sanghati, indicating that he has reached enlightenment. He is seated with both legs pendant and holds a begging bowl in his left hand, his mouth wide open to take the food he has accepted from a devotee. Above him a group of demons tormenting him, a couple of yogis (probably the two hermits he converted to buddhism after his fast), and some celestial beings. Below his rocky seat, a crowd of people holding bowls, and some animals including at least one cow. See articles by David Rumsey and Washington City on the subject.

Kashmir, various buddhas (2)

7th-8th century, Kashmir, Shakyamuni, bronze with silver-inlaid eyes, private collection, photo by Nagel, auction 103 China 2.

7th-8th century, Kashmir, five wisdom buddhas, brass, in Ladakh, photo from the Huntington Archive.

The wisdom buddhas are seated on lotuses supported by their respective mount. From left to right: a lotus supported by horses for Ratnasambhava, elephants for Akshobhya, lions for Vairocana, peacocks for Amitabha, garudas for Amoghasiddhi. Vairocana is depicted in a bodhisattva appearance, the others wear a monastic robe and no accessories, Amitabha’s garment covers both shoulders.

9th century, Kashmir, two jinas (Vairocana and Amoghasiddhi), brass, at the Matho monastery in Ladakh, photo on Nelly Rieuf

On this (now broken) set of wisdom buddhas, Vairocana, doing a gesture specific to him, is also at the centre and depicted in the same manner, while Amoghasiddhi wears a sanghati that covers his left shoulder only. They both wear tall Kashmiri-style crowns and beaded accessories with a floral motif.

8th century, Kashmir, Vairocana, brass, at the Sri Pratap Singh Museum in Srinagar (India), photo by P. Pal pl. 37 Bronzes of Kashmir, on Researchgate

Another image of Vairocana seated on a lotus supported by lions.

10th-11th century, Kashmir or Western Tibet, Vairocana, bronze (brass), private collection, photo by Christie’s, sale 17347.

We saw a brass figure of Manjushri with similar facial features, headdress and dhoti with stripes, labelled ’11th-12th century Himachal Pradesh’. The lotus seat with flat, elongated and pointed petals also differs from Kashmiri prototypes and may denote the work of a Kashmiri artist in Western Tibet (see  HAR).


Kashmir, various bodhisattvas (4)

10th-11th century, Kashmir, Maitreya, brass with silver-inlaid eyes and urna, at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (USA).

The future buddha in his bodhisattva appearance,  a stupa in his headdress and a ritual water pot in his left hand, adorned with floral jewellery, a foliate garland and a fluttering celestial scarf, his left leg pendent, the foot placed on a lotus near the base (rather than attached to is as is customary).

11th century, Kashmir or Western Himalayas, Maitreya, brass, photo on Himalayan Art Resources, item 8087.

Possibly made by a Kashmiri artist for a Tibetan patron, this Maitreya combines Kashmiri features with others, such as the moon-like face with generous lips, the rigid scarf with incised stripes, and the dhoti shorter on the right (rather than the left) side, which differ from standard Kashmiri works.

Undated, Kashmir, Maitreya, metal, at the Capital Museum in Beijing (China), photo on Himalayan Art Resources.

In Kashmir (and Nepal to a lesser extent), figures that would be seated in the vajra position in India and Tibet don’t always have their legs locked. Instead, the right leg is placed on the left one as above. The crude rope-like garland and accessories on this bodhisattva contrast with the elaborate crown with a stupa at the front and the floral earrings.

13th century, Northern India, Manjushri, vadisimha, metal (copper alloy on a brass plinth), private collection, photo on HAR

A rare sculpture of a Kashmiri-style Manjushri seated on a roaring lion, his left leg pendent, the foot resting on a lotus. His crown, earrings, neck and face are painted with cold gold (only traces of it remain on the face), the hair is dyed with lapis lazuli powder (which denotes worship in Tibet), his eyes were almost certainly inlaid with silver, his lips and his nipples are inlaid with copper.