9th-10th century, Nepal, Avalokiteshvara, gilt copper, private collection, photo by Sotheby’s.
From the end of the Licchavi period and during the Transitional period, the mitre-like crown evolved in a tripartite crown with the panels slightly set apart and the side leaves smaller than the central one. The flames of the oval halo were individually modelled on the outer edge and given a pointed end, and in this instance according to Sotheby’s there is a naga hood at the apex. The water pot in Avalokiteshvara’s hand is decorated with incisions. He is adorned with large floral earrings, two rows of beads with a matching flowers and a matching belt, serpentine armbands, plain bracelets, a thick sacred thread that passes under his sash. His dhoti is much shorter on one side and decorated with deeply engraved stripes and various motifs in between.
10th century, Nepal, Avalokiteshvara, copper alloy, Thakuri period, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York (USA).
Here, the bodhisattva of wisdom has no armbands and only one necklace, as on Licchavi sculptures; in fact, an older photo of this same item was labelled 7th century. A recurrent feature in Nepalese art throughout the centuries is the zigzag folds of the cloth at the front that end in a sharp point between the legs.
10th century, Nepal, Kathmandu Valley, Avalokiteshvara, gilt copper alloy, Thakuri period, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York.
The sash across the hip also evolved and acquired broader and more flowing extremities, making it more showy. The serpentine armbands are worn high up and have a different shape so that the head is now broader than the tail, and at an angle – as if looking towards the bodhisattva.
10th century, Nepal, Avalokiteshvara, gilt copper alloy and gems, private collection, photo by Bonhams.
This masterpiece is a forerunner of the posterior Malla style, with its rich fire-gilding and stone inlay, elaborate accessories, and more fluidity in the limbs that gives the impression of natural movement.
Each panel of his crown was once heavily studded with gems and there is a lotus bud at the tip of each one, plus a large of effigy of Amitabha on the central panel.
Both his dhoti and his sash are decorated with an unusual profusion of deeply incised geometrical motifs, which Bonhams interpret as yantras and srivatsas.
10th-11th century, Nepal, Avalokiteshvara, gilt copper and stone inlay at the Asia Society in New York (USA).
Eventually, a stippled lotus pattern became a common decoration for the lower garment. This figure also has an effigy of Amitabha in his crown and probably held in the left hand the stem of a lotus that stemmed from the pedestal.
Undated (labelled ‘possibly 13th century’), Nepal, Kathmandu Valley, Avalokiteshvara, bronze, at the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York (USA).