Vairocana, his hands doing a gestures specific to him, is seated on a throne covered with a tasseled cloth and supported by six lions atop a double lotus base with a small plinth.
The lions, who face the viewer, have curly manes and fury chest with a parting in the middle typical of Swat Valley and Gilgit art (see the page on Swat Valley art, top left hand side of this blog)
His eyes and urna are inlaid with silver, there is an effigy of Amitabha in his crown – a feature we saw on several other Vairocana sculptures from the Swat Valley – and a jewel finial on his chignon. Long strands of twisted hair fall over his shoulders.
He is adorned with large floral earrings, a beaded necklace, some bracelets and unusual armbands with festoons.
Another element typical of the Swat Valley is the way some buddhas and bodhisattvas hold their left arm at a right angle towards the viewer. As in most cases, the historical buddha is portrayed here with a sanghati that covers both shoulders and has a V-shaped neckline.
The cold gold and pigments on the face of this buddha suggest that, at some stage, he was worshipped in Tibet. Although the sculpture is in the Swat Valley style and the lotus base design corresponds to the (circa) 7th century, the colour of the metal is unusual for the area.