Avalokiteshvara with eleven heads (3 peaceful, 3 semi-wrathful, 3 wrathful plus Mahakala’s and Manjushri’s) and eight arms, some secured by rods; the main hands are before his heart and with the palms slightly apart, in the gesture made to hold a jewel, the lower right hand does the gesture of supreme generosity, the other would have held a water pot, the remaining hands once held a rosary, a wheel, a lotus, a bow.
The main face displays Central Asian features and a diamond-shaped urna. There is an effigy of the historical buddha and two adepts on his crown.
We saw one similar piece from the same place and period, with the celestial scarf arranged like an arch around the figure and wearing a triangular skirt-like garment (shorter and with less layers here) and with the wheel and the rosary in the same hand rather than in separate ones.
In many cases the main hands are pressed tightly together, in a salutation gesture commonly used on the Asian continent.
On this more recent item Avalokiteshvara holds the effigy of Amitabha in his upper right hand and he has a third eye instead of an urna on his forehead.
The eight-hand form may be seated, this is a rare example.
15th century, made by Sonam Gyaltsen circa 1430, Central Tibet, Avalokiteshvara, gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo by Bonhams.
The thousand-arm form is always standing.
This Nepalese-style figure stands on a lotus base with two rows of petals facing each other and the lower rim decorated with a chased floral and rice-grain pattern.