Phagpa Lokeshvara, variants (2)

Undated (14th century circa?), Tibet?, wood, private collection, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

Quite different from the original in proportions, he holds his right hand at the same awkward angle and also has an effigy of himself on the front panel of his crown. The developed pectorals and the facial features point to a Tibetan artist.

Undated, Tibetan or Nepalese artist, Phagpa Lokeshvara, wood, at Tabo Monastery in Himachal Pradesh, published by Ian Alsop (see link in left-hand column).This one has a lotus flower on the front panel of his crown.

Undated, Tibet or Nepal, polychrome wood, private collection, photo by Spink & Son.

Dressed in a tight-fitting ankle-length dhoti decorated with a small geometrical motif, coupled with a broad sash, he holds an object in his left hand.

Undated, Tibet or Nepal, gilt wood, private collection, same as before.

A slim figure with long legs,  a soft sash worn low down and knotted to one side, decorated with foliated scrolls.

His hair and facial features have been painted with pigments.

Undated, Tibet or Nepal, wood and cold gold, pigments, private collection, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

Another figure with long legs, and a particularly tall headdress. It is worth noting that on these sculptures the height of the crown is almost double that of the folded hair (unlike the prototype at the Potala).

His face is painted with cold gold, the facial features and the hair with pigments.

We have seen such short dhotis painted with a geometrical motif in black and red/ochre on wooden works made during the Nepalese Malla period. This one also wears his sash very low down, but the end is stiff and rectangular.

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Phagpa Lokeshvara, a singular metal statue

7th-8th century, Nepal, Avalokiteshvara, Phagpa Lokeshvara form, gilt copper, private collection, photo by Bonhams.

It is generally accepted that metal, stone and ivory sculptures of this form of Avalokiteshvara are far posterior to the original sandalwood icon kept at the Potala, made by a Nepalese artist  in Tibet or Nepal and dated 7th century. This copper image, however, has all the characteristics of the Nepalese Licchavi period and looks very much like a Vajrapani kept at the Cleveland Museum, and another kept at a temple in Kathmandu, both dated 8th century.

All three wear a similar necklace and snakelet armbands high up on their forearms, which we have also seen on a 6th-7th century wooden Avalokiteshvara from the Freer and Sackler Gallery.

At the same time, there is no doubt that this is Phapga Lokeshvara but with added jewellery (other than his usual earrings) …

… and without a banana-like hair bunch sticking out of his mitre-like crown. We saw a similar headdress on a 15th century circa Tibetan wooden image (reproduced below for comparison).

Both have an effigy on the front panel of the crown, not of Amitabha, as may be assumed, but of Phagpa Lokeshvara himself (a feature specific to this form of Avalokiteshvara).

We are therefore looking at a (so far) unique metal version of the Potala image made more or less at the same time.

Nepal, Late Malla Achala

16th century, Nepal, Achala, gilt copper alloy and stone inlay, at the Philadelphia Museum of Art (USA).

16th century, Nepal, Achala, gilt copper alloy and stone inlay, at the Philadelphia Museum of Art (USA).

This rare Nepalese sculpture of Achala (far more common in Tibet) is a good example of the refined craftsmanship of Newari artists during the Malla period. The deity is half crouching and half kneeling, brandishing his sword and holding his (missing) lasso, clad in a short dhoti incised with a floral motif and held in place with a belt – its pendant ribbon studded with gems. He wears a crown with bows and ribbons, plain armbands and bangles, hoops, beaded anklets, a short necklace with large cabochons typical of the late Malla period, and a celestial scarf with leaves and buds coming out of the extremities.

Nepal, Avalokiteshvara – shadbhuja

16th century, Nepal, Three Malla Kingdoms, gilt copper alloy, at the Asia Society Museum in New York (USA).

16th century, Nepal, Three Malla Kingdoms, Avalokiteshvara, gilt copper alloy, at the Asia Society Museum in New York (USA).

In his one-head and six-arm form (shadbhuja), Avalokiteshvara sits with a leg pendant, holding a fly whisk, a thunderbolt and a noose in his right hands, a vajra-hook, a long-stem lotus and a water pot in his left hands. There is an effigy of Amitabha in his headdress and a tall rectangular urna on his forehead.  He wears an antelope skin knotted across his chest, a sash, an ankle-length dhoti richly incised with a floral motif, princely jewellery including large floral earrings. Unlike the majority of images seen so far, he wears a sacred thread over his right shoulder rather than on the other side. A devotee is kneeling on a lotus bud that stems from the central column which supports the large lotus flower on which he sits.

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.

Nepal, Cintamani Lokeshvara

16th century circa, Nepal, Chintamani Lokeshvara, wood and paint, at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (USA).

16th century circa, Nepal, Chintamani Lokeshvara, wood and paint, at the Los Angeles County Museum of Art (USA).

This form of Avalokiteshvara, with one head and two hands, stands under a wish-fulfilling tree and usually displays the varada mudra with the right hand and holds a gem or a bunch of jewels at head level with his left hand. We have already seen a full size picture of the above (standing between 2 trees) in a previous post, published the wrong way round. This partial image shows him the right way round, with the jewels in the left hand.

Undated (Late Malla period), Nepal, Chintamani Lokeshvara, copper alloy, private collection, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

Undated (Late Malla period), Nepal, Chintamani Lokeshvara, copper alloy, private collection, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

Specific to the Newar culture, this form of Avalokiteshvara seems to have been particularly popular during the late Malla period. The above stands under one tree, with jewelled leaves.

17th century, Nepal, Avalokiteshvara, Chintamani, stone, photo by Marcel Nies on asianart.com

Chintamani Lokeshvara, Nepal, Malla Kingdoms, circa 1600. stone, photo by Marcel Nies, published on asianart.com

Like the first image, this Chintamani (or Cintamani) Lokeshvara stands between two trees that meet to form an arch. There is an effigy of Amitabha at the top, a kneeling monkey to the right of the bodhisattva above head level, a bird on the other side, gems and flowers in the tree. He holds a circular gem in his right hand and a bunch of gems in the other. A devotee is kneeling at his feet while another figure is carrying a bag of riches away. He is adorned with the traditional floral jewellery and a thick garland of woven leaves and flowers.

Chintamani Lokeshvara, Nepal, 1613, stone, at Svayanbhu, Nepal.

Chintamani Lokeshvara, Nepal, 1613, stone, at the Svayambhu Museum, Nepal.

This is a similar (but larger) work, without the two figures at his feet. The jewels on the tree(s) are studded with red stones or glass.

17th century, Nepal, Cintamani Lokeshvara, gilt copper and stones, at the Nelson Atkins Museum (USA).

17th century, Nepal, Cintamani Lokeshvara, gilt copper and stones, at the Nelson Atkins Museum (USA).

On this metal sculpture he holds a wish-granting gem in the right hand, held in varada mudra, and a bunch of jewels in the other. The lotus pedestal with the tree is missing but this is the only form of Avalokiteshvara with jewels in the left hand and the other displaying the gesture of generosity.

Late Malla Avalokiteshvara – standing (3)

Standing Avalokitesvara , 16th century Nepal (Kathmandu Valley), Sandalwood, traces of polychrome and gold ; H. 6 in. (15.2 cm) The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, Rogers Fund, 1947 (47.108) http://www.metmuseum.org/Collections/search-the-collections/38441

Standing Avalokitesvara , 16th century, Nepal (Kathmandu Valley),
Sandalwood, traces of polychrome and gold, at The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, (USA).

Standing on a double lotus base with round petals, the bodhisattva of compassion holds his right hand in the gesture of supreme generosity and has the long stem of a lotus flower in the other. He is adorned with a crown and jewellery with a floral design, a long sacred thread, a belt and a sash placed diagonally and knotted to one side.

16th-17th century, Nepal, Padmapani, gilt copper alloy and pigment, private collection, photo by Mossgreen.

16th-17th century, Nepal, Padmapani, gilt copper alloy and pigment, private collection, photo by Mossgreen.

We saw a very similar Pala-revival sculpture of Avalokiteshvara in his padmapani form in a previous post. There is an effigy of Amitabha in his headdress, between the small floral tiara and his chignon. He is adorned with bulky jewellery with a floral motif and a matching belt.

16th-17th c., Nepal, Padmapani, Pala revival, gilt cop.+pig., 18,4 cm, Amitabha in crown, incised dhoti+palm, Mossgreen

His long dhoti is incised with lotus flowers and there is an incised diamond with a lotus at the centre in the palm of his right hand.

17th century circa

17th century circa, Nepal, Padmapani, gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo by Christie’s.

The mitre-like crown is specific to Nepal, and in particular to the Malla period. He is adorned with large jewellery with a floral motif and dressed in a long dhoti with an incised pattern, complemented by a belt with a pendant ribbon at the front and an incised sash worn across the thighs.

17th-18th century, Nepal, Avalokiteshvara, ivory, at the British Museum (UK)

17th-18th century, Nepal, Avalokiteshvara, ivory, at the British Museum (UK).

This Avalokiteshvara has a lotus embossed in the palm of his left hand. He also wears a crown, jewellery and belt with a floral motif, to remind us that he belongs to the lotus family.