Swat Valley, Avalokiteshvara (8)

6th-7th century, Swat Valley, Avalokiteshvara, bronze, private collection, photo on Hardt 

The bodhisattva of wisdom, a long-stemmed lotus in his left hand, is depicted in an unusual style, like a dark bronze of Tara seen previously (labelled ‘8th century, Swat Valley or Kashmir’). Both figures have a halo and are surrounded by an arch; their bodies are flat, with a thin waist, the torso swaying exaggeratedly to one side. Instead of the usual Swat Valley crown Avalokiteshvara has a huge effigy of Amitabha against his chignon.

6th-7th century, Swat Valley, Avalokiteshvara, bronze, private collection, photo on Hardt as above.

The auctioneers inform that this figure is flat at the back. Many of the details are marked with deep incisions, including the singular ornament on the bodhisattva‘s head, where one would expect a fan-shaped hair bunch.

7th century, Swat Valley, (Avalokiteshvara) Padmapani, bronze, private collection, photo on Ethereal .

Seated on a brocaded cushion atop a rocky formation, his right leg pendent, Avalokiteshvara holds what looks like a stalkless lotus bud in his left hand.

Circa 7th century, Swat Valley, Padmapani, bronze, private collection, photo on artsy , Rossi & Rossi.

A large open lotus flower and a bud for this dark bronze figure seated with his legs locked on a Swat-Valley style double-lotus base with no plinth.

7th-8th century, Swat Valley, Padmapani, sandstone, private collection, photo on Christie’s

Avalokiteshvara in a pensive mood, seated with a leg pendent, is a recurrent theme in Swat Valley portable sculptures.

9th-10th century, Swat Valley, Rakta Lokeshvara, bronze, private collection, photo by Pratapaditya Pal, 1975.

Like Vajradharma Lokeshvara, this form of Avalokiteshvara plucks a lotus with is right hand but his seat is not supported by peacocks.

9th-10th century, probably from Kashmir, Avalokiteshvara, bronze with silver-inlaid eyes and copper-inlaid lips, private collection, photo by Rossi & Rossi as above.

A Swat-Valley style brass padmapani with an effigy of Amitabha in his crown and the stalk of a (broken) lotus in his left hand, seated on a cushion atop an openwork wicker hassock, his left leg pendent, the foot placed on a lotus bud fastened to the base. The thick plinth with a kneeling devotee depicted in the opposite corner (probably the donor) is a recurrent feature in Kashmiri art.

Swat Valley, buddhas

6th-7th century, Swat Valley, Shakyamuni (labelled ‘Vairocana’), bronze with silver-inlaid eyes, private collection, photo on  Hardt  .

Shakyamuni in his crowned buddha form, his robe covering both shoulders, seated on a double-lotus base with a back plate featuring two attendants with halo, the nimbus behind his head shaped like a solar wheel topped with a stupa and streamers. This type of back plate (common to Kashmir and the Swat Valley) usually  goes with a throne supported by lions or elephants.

7th-8th century, Swat Valley, Shakyamuni, copper (or copper alloy?), is or was at a monastery in Ladakh, photo on academia.edu , article by Chiara Bellini.

Swat Valley metal sculptures of Shakyamuni often depict him with both shoulders covered and holding a piece of his garment with his left arm at a sharp angle, which is not the case here. He has Kashmiri-style facial features with silver-inlaid eyes, flames coming out of his chignon, and he sits on a cushion with tassels at each corner, atop a lion throne covered with a cloth decorated with roundels. We will note that the lions are larger than the throne and that their head is not below the seat. (Compare with the Gilgit buddha at the Met).

8th-9th century, Northwest India, Shakyamuni, brass, at the National Palace Museum  (Taiwan).

Swat Valley, seated buddhas (3)

Undated, Swat Valley, Akshobhya or Shakyamuni, bronze, at the Karachi National Museum (Pakistan), photo on Austriaca

Both Akshobhya and the historical buddha may be seated on a throne supported by elephants but Akshobhya is not associated with the ‘turning the wheel of dharma’ gesture. We saw a Swat Valley sculpture of Shakyamuni seated on a similar elephant throne, dated 7th-8th century.

Circa 7th-8th century, Swat Valley, buddha, bronze, private collection, photo on Tushita

Metal sculptures from the Swat Valley often show Shakyamuni with his right hand doing the gesture of supreme generosity and the other holding a piece of his robe, with the arm perpendicular to the chest and the wrist at a right angle.

8th century, Swat Valley, Shakyamuni, bronze, possibly at the Swat Museum (Pakistan), photo on Swat .

6th or 7th century, Swat Valley, Shakyamuni, rock carving, at Jahanabad, photo by the ISEMO on lionsroar .

On this ancient rock carving his hands are over his lap in the meditation gesture.

 

Swat Valley, various bodhisattvas (5)

Swat Valley or Swat Valley style?, undated, Vajrapani, metal (brass with silver-inlaid eyes), private collection, photo on Himalayan Art Resources

The attribute held by this bodhisattva has the same design as one held by a 7th-8th century Vajrapani from the National Museum in Karachi, also seated with a leg pendant on a rocky formation, and an 8th century Vajrapani at the Crocker Art Museum, both attributed to the Swat Valley area and both holding the vajra sceptre vertically against their left knee. His facial features recall a brass figure at the Ashmolean Museum (labelled ‘Himachal Pradesh by the museum but kept in the ‘Swat Valley’ section on HAR).

8th-9th century, Swat Valley, Avalokiteshvara, brass with silver inlay, at the Art Institute of Chicago (USA).

Avalokiteshvara is identified by the effigy of Amitabha on the open lotus in his left hand. His right hand does the gesture of supreme generosity. He wears large floral accessories typical of the (post-Gandharan) Swat Valley style, including a belt over an unusual short and plain dhoti. We saw a similar lotus seat on a rocky formation in the previous post.

First quarter of the 9th century, Swat Valley, Avalokiteshvara, brass inlaid with copper and silver, at the Art Institute of Chicago (USA) on artic

The same bodhisattva, on a pedestal supported by two lions facing the viewer.

His eyes are inlaid with silver, his lips with copper, there is an effigy of Amitabha at the front of his crown.

7th century, Swat Valley, Avalokiteshvara, bronze, location and photo credits not given, photo on Swat Valley bronzes

Avalokiteshvara seated at ease on a lion throne.

Swat Valley, seated figures (3)

Mid second century, Swat Valley, Shakyamuni, bronze, private collection, photo on Every object

The earliest example we had seen so far of a Swat Valley sculpture not belonging to the Greco-Buddhist style is a buddha from the Pacific Asia Museum (see here ). The above is seated on a Gandharan-style square throne that may have had a fire-altar scene at the front. Other archaic elements are the oversized head and the facial features (different from the Kashmiri style that prevailed in the area between the 6th and 10th century) and the flame coming out of his chignon as a symbol of  enlightened knowledge and reminiscent of the Gandharan nimbus shaped like a star or a solar disc. The v-neck pleated garment that covers both shoulders and the left arm held at an angle are two elements of what became known as the Swat Valley style.

8th-9th century, Swat Valley, Shakyamuni, copper alloy with silver inlay, private collection, photo on Jacques How Choong

This looks like a traditional Swat Valley portrait of Shakyamuni with Kashmiri facial features and hairstyle, seated on a lion throne atop a single lotus with ‘artichoke leaves’ on a small plinth. However, when looking at it closely we notice that the lions are depicted sideways in the Gilgit fashion (instead of sitting facing the viewer), and that the cloth between them has no tassels.

8th-9th c., Swat Valley, Avalokiteshvara, brass with copper and silver inlay, photo credits and location not quoted, photo on Stock

An unusual four-arm form of Avalokiteshvara, identified by the effigy of Amitabha in his headdress and the antelope skin over his left shoulder, holding a Hindu-style trident and a lotus in his upper hands, a lasso and a water pot in the others. The plinth under the ‘waisted’ lotus base imitates a rocky formation. His eyes are inlaid with silver, the lips with copper.

7th century, Swat Valley, bodhisattva, bronze, at the State Hermitage Museum in St Petersburg (Russia).

Swat Valley, 2 female deities (3)

9th century, Swat Valley, Tara, bronze (copper alloy) with silver and copper inlay, private collection, photo by Nagel, sale 105 China 1.

Tara, seated in the vajra position holds an open lotus in her left hand and does the gesture of generosity with the other. She has two eyes, inlaid with silver, and a rectangular urna inlaid with copper, like her nipples showing through her diaphanous Kashmiri-style bodice. (This iconography will later be associated with Vishvamata in Tibetan art, where White Tara normally has an eye incised on her forehead, the palm of her hands and the sole of her feet).

The lions that support her throne and the kneeling figures, probably devotees, at the foot of the lotus base also have silver-inlaid eyes.

5th-6th century, Swat Valley, Prajnaparamita, bronze with silver inlay, private collection?, photo on Every object

A sculpture fairly similar to a 7th-8th century Swat Valley bronze from the Jameel Centre (Ashmolean Museum) seen in a previous post ( here ) labelled ‘Tara’. She is seated on a rectangular throne atop a lotus base and holds a manuscript in both hands.

Swat Valley, seated figures (2)

Circa 6th century, Swat Valley, Maitreya, bronze with silver-inlaid eyes, private collection, photo by Sotheby’s.

Seated with his legs locked, on a lotus base with large ‘artichoke leaves’ and no plinth below, Maitreya holds a ritual water pot by the neck. He has the usual fan-shaped hairstyle and wears a tiara, beaded jewellery and two different earrings, a thin celestial scarf and a long dhoti decorated with a chased geometrical motif.

6th-7th century, Swat Valley, Prajnaparamita, bronze with silver-inlaid eyes and urna, private collection, photo by Hanhai Auction on Hanhai .

Prajnaparamita holds a manuscript in her left hand. She wears a necklace with a clasp in the middle and two different size earrings worn at a different angle.

Undated, Swat Valley, Avalokiteshvara, bronze, private collection, on Himalayan Art Resources HAR

Avalokiteshvara in a pensive mood is a recurrent theme in Swat Valley art. He sits with a leg pendent, holding a lotus in his left hand, his right arm on his folded leg and the hand points towards his face.

6th-8th century, Swat Valley, Avalokiteshvara, bronze, private collection, photo on Grand Art.

7th-8th century, Swat Valley, Shakyamuni, bronze, private collection, photo on  Hardt Auctions .

Undated (circa 7th century?, Swat Valley), Shakyamuni, bronze with silver eyes, private collection, photo on Grand Art .

The historical buddha seated on a lion throne atop a lotus supported by a stepped plinth, a solar symbol fastened to the nimbus behind his head.

7th-8th century, Swat Valley, Shakyamuni (labelled bodhisattva), bronze with silver inlay, private collection, photo on BC.

A rare example of the crowned Buddha, holding a piece of his garment in his left hand, adorned with floral earrings and a matching necklace, the palm of his hands and the sole of his feet incised with a wheel.

Circa 8th century, Swat Valley, Tara, copper alloy with silver-inlaid eyes, private collection, photo on Bonhams 2019.

We had only seen one Green Tara from the Swat Valley so far. Here she sits with her left leg pendent (rather than the right one), wearing a Kashmiri-style tight-fitting tunic with an inverted U-shape hem, a long lower garment decorated with a stippled lotus motif, a celestial scarf (or long ribbons?) going from her headdress to her hips.

6th century, Swat Valley (or Swat Valley style?), Padmapani, bronze, private collection, photo on Dalton Somare .

Avalokiteshvara in his pensive form, seated on an openwork hassock, holding a (missing) lotus in his left hand, coiffed with a crown with an effigy of Amitabha at the front, adorned with princely jewellery including serpentine armbands that are unusual for this bodhisattva and the area. Other unusual features are the treatment of the eyes, the row of flat locks below the crown, the colour of the alloy.

Unlabelled, (Swat Valley?, Maitreya, brass), private collection, photo on Himalayan Art Resources, item 200863.

Maitreya has a stupa at the front of his crown and a blue lotus in his left hand. He is seated on a cushion with a stippled lotus motif and large tassels in each corner, atop a lion throne supported by a lotus on a small plinth.