Tibet, Avalokiteshvara – seated (2)

14th century, Tibet, Avalokiteshvara, gilt bronze (copper alloy) with turquoise and coral inlay, private collection, photo by Christie’s.

Avalokiteshvara in his padmapani (lotus bearer) form, with an effigy of Amitabha in his headdress.

15th-16th century, Tibet, Avalokiteshvara, metal, at the Boston Museum of Fine Arts (USA).

The bodhisattva of compassion is seated at royal ease (see the new section on leg poses added to the Hand Gestures page in the left-hand column of this blog), his right arm resting over the raised knee, the left arm placed on the lotus base. We can see the skin of an antelope over his left shoulder and an effigy of Amitabha in his headdress, two attributes of Avalokiteshvara in his padmapani form. He may have held the stem of a lotus, now missing, in his left hand.

16th-17th century, Tibet, Avalokiteshvara, gilt copper alloy with turquoise inlay and pigment, private collection, photo by Koller.

This Avalokiteshvara has no effigy of Amitabha in his headdress, no antelope skin, no lotus, and no crown, yet the Khasarpana form would have matted hair cascading and both hands doing the dharmacakra (turning the wheel of dharma) gesture.  It may be that he has lost his crown or that this is a lesser known of the very many forms of this deity.

17th century, Tibet, Avalokiteshvara, also labelled ‘Male on a cow’, by Chöying Dorje, copper and cold gold, is or was in Lhasa, published by Ulrich von Schroeder.

The rosary in his right hand and the lotus in the other identify this figure as Avalokiteshvara. The very creative 1oth karmapa has given him an unusual hairstyle sometimes seen on sculptures of Tara, which consists in gathering all the hair in a bunch worn on one side.



Tibet, seated Maitreya (16)

Circa 1300, Tibet, Maitreya, gilt copper alloy and stones, private collection, photo by Rossi & Rossi.

A richly gilt portrait of Maitreya in his bodhisattva appearance, seated at royal ease with a leg pendant, the foot resting on a lotus springing from the base, a stupa in his headdress, almost certainly made by a Newari artist from the Kathmandu Valley.

14th century, Tibet, Maitreya, gilt bronze (copper alloy), cold gold and pigments, private collection, photo by Christie’s.

This is a more traditional image of the bodhisattva, seated in the vajra position with both hands ‘turning the wheel of dharma‘ and holding the stem of lotuses, one of them supporting a ritual water pot. There is a stupa in his headdress. His Chinese silk garment is decorated with incisions.

15th century, Tibet, Maitreya, same as before.

On this rare image Maitreya’s chignon is topped with a vajra finial and his left hand rests over his knee while holding the stem of a plant that supports a ritual water pot. The right hand is dispelling fear.

15th-16th century, Tibet, Maitreya, bronze (copper alloy), private collection, photo by Lempertz.

Apart from the broken lotus which would have supported his waterpot, this is very much like a 15th century sculpture of Maitreya published in a previous post and attributed to a Tsang atelier (Central Tibet).

The eyes are inlaid with silver and there is a flaming jewel on top of his chignon.

Tibet, Maitreya – buddha of the future (3)

15th century, Western Tibet, Maitreya, wood with clay, gesso, straw and pigments, private collection, photo by Rossi & Rossi.

This carbon-dated sculpture depicts Maitreya in his buddha appearance, wearing a red patched robe with a blue hem, the garment covering only one shoulder (normally the left one). His missing right hand displayed either the fear-allaying or the teaching gesture, the left hand appears to have been resting over the knee.

14th or 17th century, Tibet, Maitreya, copper alloy, same as before.

Such dark alloy images of Maitreya seated with both legs pendant and the feet resting on a lotus were particular popular in Tibet during the 14th century. The large red circle over his navel is a singular feature. His elongated waist, the shape of the head and face and the draping suggest that the work was made around the 17th century. His headdress is decorated with a stupa and some rosettes, there are traces of cold gold on the face and neck, his hands are ‘turning the wheel of dharma‘, a gesture often displayed by Maitreya.

18th century, Tibet, Maitreya, gilt copper with stone inlay and pigments, private collection, photo by Sotheby’s.

This Maitreya is dressed in a fine silk robe decorated with an incised motif and loosely gathered over his legs. As on the previous image, the right shoulder is covered but the arm is left free. He is easily identified by the stupa in his headdress.


Tibet, peaceful Manjushri – seated (7)

16th century, Tibet, Manjushri, gilt bronze (copper alloy) and stones, private collection, photo by Christie’s.

The bodhisattva of wisdom is doing the ‘turning the wheel of dharma‘ gesture while holding the stem of lotuses that support a book and the hilt of a sword.

His long dhoti is decorated with fine incisions throughout and his belt is engraved with a geometrical pattern. He wears showy beaded and stone-inlaid jewellery including ankle ornaments worn over his garment.

Undated, Tibet, Manjushri, gilt metal, turquoise, lapis lazuli and coral inlay, private collection, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

A similar Newari-style image,

16th-17th century, Tibet or Nepal, Manjushri, gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo by Bonhams.


Tibet, Manjushri, namasangiti (4)

17th century, Tibet, Manjughosa, gilt bronze (copper alloy), private collection, photo by Far East Asian Art.

The namasangiti form of Manjushri/Manjughosa may have 1 or 3 heads and up to 12 arms. The above has one head and four hands, in which he holds a sword and a manuscript; the missing attributes are a bow and an arrow.

Undated (circa 18th century ?), Tibet, Manjushri, namasangiti, copper alloy and cold gold, private collection, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

On this Pala-revival image we can see the bow in one of his left hands. The other left hand holds the long stem of a blue lotus supporting the Prajnaparamita sutra topped with a flaming jewel.

16th century, (Tibet?), Manjushri, namasangiti, silvered copper alloy with stones and coral, private collection, photo by Bonhams.

Tibet, Manjushri with sword (5)

11th century, Western Tibet, Manjushri, copper alloy, private collection, published on http://www.asianartresource.com

The bodhisattva of wisdom brandishes a vajra-tipped sword in one hand and holds the stem of a blue lotus topped with a manuscript in the other. He wears a Ladakhi-style tripartite crown and a long celestial scarf, large floral earrings, beaded jewellery, belt and sacred cord. His dhoti, much shorter on one side, is decorated with an incised geometrical pattern. A large turquoise stone marks the urna on his forehead. He displays Kashmiri features such as the marked pectorals and the cruciform navel.

12th-13th century, Tibet, Manjushri, bronze, private collection, photo by Sotheby’s.

A Pala-style version of the same deity, wearing a knee-length garment decorated with a stippled floral motif.

Undated, Western Tibet, Manjushri, copper alloy and cold gold, private collection, published on Himalayan Art Resources.

This is an example of the  ‘Pala-revival’ style in Tibet, of which there 2 main phases (14th-15th century and 17th-18th century).


The sword is broken but the lotus supporting a book topped with a pearl identify Manjushri beyond doubt.

Late 15th century, Tibet, Manjushri, gilt copper alloy and turquoise inlay, private collection, photo by Christie’s.

Newar artists from the Kathmandu valley brought with them to Tibet the custom of gilding the sculpture and decorating it with small cabochons. This item also displays Chinese features such as the ample draping of the dhoti and the shawl over the shoulders with loops at elbow level.


Tibet, Shadakshari Lokeshvara (16)

16th-17th century, Tibet, Shadakshari Lokeshvara, dark copper alloy, private collection, photo by Koller.

Sometimes Tibetan sculptures depart from standard iconography, especially from the 16th century onwards. Instead of holding a rosary in his right hand, this Chinese-style figure holds a flower, possibly a blue lotus, which is never fully open.

18th century, Eastern Tibet, Shadakshari Lokeshvara, brass, at the Royal Ontario Museum (Canada).

This one, designed to be carried in a portable shrine or amulet box judging by its  size (about two and a half centimetres), supports a manuscript in his right hand.

Same as before, gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo by Bonhams.

The above holds a small object in his upper right hand which Bonhams  describe as a jewel.

He wears a five-leaf crown with Chinese-style serpentine ribbons and his chignon is topped with Amitabha’s head.

18th century, Tibet, Shadakshari Lokeshvara, gilt copper with stone inlay and paint, at the Nelson Atkins Museum in Kansas City (USA).

The main hands are always clasped at heart level to hold a wish-granting jewel, while the left one holds a fully-open lotus.