Tibet, Amoghapasha Lokeshvara (2)

14th century, Western Tibet, Amoghapasha Lokeshvara, copper alloy, private collection, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

14th century, Western Tibet, Amoghapasha Lokeshvara, copper alloy, private collection, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

In Tibet, sculptures of this deity are not common and usually have 6 or 8 arms. This is a very rare example (even paintings rarely show him under this form) with one head and two hands, the one on the right doing the gesture of generosity, the other doing the gesture of bestowing refuge. He sits with one leg pendant, the foot resting on a lotus bud attached to the base.

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Tibet, Amoghapasha Lokeshvara

Almost never represented in Tibet in the form of sculpture, this deity, generally thought to be a form of Avalokiteshvara (rightly or wrongly) may have one to three heads and two to 12 hands. His  distinctive attribute is the pasha or rope, which, according to Tibetan scriptures, may be a noose or a lasso, or both. Other attributes may be a rosary or a flywhisk, a water pot, a long-stem lotus, a trident or an elephant goad, a vajra sceptre, and one of his right hands usually displays the gesture of supreme generosity.

Undated, Tibet, Amoghapasha, copper alloy with cold gold and pigment, at the Tibet Museum in New Delhi, on HImalayan Art Resources.

Undated, Tibet, Amoghapasha, copper alloy with cold gold and pigment, at the Tibet Museum in New Delhi, on HImalayan Art Resources.

On the Nepalese-style example above, there is a rosary in his top right hand, a noose in the next one down, the other two are doing the abhaya and the varada mudra. His top left hand holds a manuscript, the next ones down hold a trident (in the form of a thick stalk with three lotus buds), a lotus flower and a round water pot. These attributes and mudras correspond to a description given in an ancient text from Nepal, where he was considerably more popular, but there are variations on the objects he holds and their position.