Tibet, seated Maitreya (20)

14th century, Tibet, Shakyamuni (or Maitreya), gilt bronze, private collection, photo on Nagel .

This may be Shakyamuni but such sculptures are usually understood to represent Maitreya as the buddha of the future. This singular work depicts a buddha doing the ‘turning the wheel of dharma‘ gesture and holding a wheel or disc at the same time. He is seated with both legs pendent, his feet placed on a lotus, on a cushion decorated with visvajras, atop a stepped throne with legs shaped like inverted lotus buds and a back plate incised with scrolls. He wears a monastic robe with a stippled lotus print and a broad boarder with beaded seams, his plain lower garment showing underneath, especially over the legs.

16th-17th century, Tibet, Buddha, gilt copper alloy, private collection, photo on Tajan

A similar image without the wheel or disc between his hands.

14th-15th century possibly, Tibet or Nepal, Maitreya, gilt bronze with stones and pearl inlay, private collection, photo on skinnerinc.

Maitreya in his bodhisattva appearance, seated in the same manner, his hands doing the ‘turning the wheel of dharma‘ gesture, the left one holding the stem of a blue lotus topped with a ritual water pot (kundika), his chignon topped with a stupa.

16th century, Tibet, Maitreya, bronze with cold gold and pigments, private collection, photo by Lempertz, sale 1146 lot 313.

Seated with his legs locked, his right hand dispelling fear, the other cupped in the meditation gesture, a combination often used to depict him either as a buddha or as a bodhisattva. There is a small water pot on the flower to his left and a stupa finial on his chignon.

18th century, Tibet, Maitreya, wood with cold gold and red lacquer, private collection, photo on Christie’s .

Gandhara, bodhisattvas (3)

2nd-3rd century, Gandhara, teaching bodhisattva, schist, at the Ashmolean Museum in Oxford (UK).

A life-like bodhisattva seated on a throne with a fire altar scene at the front, bedecked with jewellery and wearing a pleated lower garment and a long piece of fabric over the left shoulder and across his lap, a large nimbus with ribbons behind him. The position of the hands (‘turning the wheel of the law’) is normally associated with Maitreya but in Gandharan art Avalokiteshvara may also do this gesture while holding a short-stalked lotus.

2nd-4th century, Gandhara, (Avalokiteshvara) Padmapani, schist with traces of polychromy, private collection, photo on Marcel Nies .

Seated with legs crossed and his feet placed on lotuses stemming from the base, Avalokiteshvara is identified by the buddha effigy in his headdress and the lotus in his right hand. He holds a water pot by the neck with his left hand. His ornaments include a choker with a lotus pendant, strings of beads with amulet boxes and a necklace with makara heads joined at the front.

Instead of the usual ‘tenon’ and cockade, the central part of his headdress consists in a miniature Amitabha with a flaming aureole behind him, fastened to a headband with makaras. Compare with a pensive Avalokiteshvara from Mathura, India here .

2nd-6th century, Gandhara, bodhisattva, grey schist, private collection, photo on underthebo

Quite different from standard Greco-Buddhist works, the above has a voluminous double loop hair knot and no moustache. His upper garment covers most of his chest and forms two loops hanging over the lotus base at the front. The water pot he holds by the neck with both hands suggests this is Maitreya.

Circa 3rd century, Gandhara, bodhisattva, schist, at the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco (USA).

3rd-4th century, Gandhara, bodhisattva, schist, private collection, photo on Bonhams  

Kashmir, various bodhisattvas (6)

10th-11th century, Kashmir, Avalokiteshvara, possibly silver, Stok Palace Museum in Leh (ancient Tibetan kingdom of Ladakh, presently India), published by Chiara Bellini on academia.edu.

Avalokiteshvara in his padmapani form, which in Himalayan art usually includes an antelope skin over his left shoulder and an effigy of Amitabha in his headdress, as above. He stands on a single lotus, his right hand in the gesture to dispel fear, the other holding his main attribute. The backplate with a nimbus filled with a large flower is possibly from Himachal Pradesh. His sharp facial features, with semi-closed slanted eyes, V-shaped mouth and high cheekbones, and his very showy headdress are quite different from standard Kashmiri sculptures (see below).

Circa 11th century, Kashmir, Avalokiteshvara, brass with cold gold, is or was at the Chemre monastery in Ladakh, photo by Michael Henss, 1980.

Undated (circa 11th century), Kashmir (labelled ‘India’), Manjushri, Arapachana, brass with silver eyes, photo on HAR

Seated on a double-lotus base with large ‘artichoke’ leaves proper to Kashmir and Swat Valley art, his legs not quite locked, Manjushri in his arapachana form brandishes a flaming sword and holds a manuscript vertically before his heart.

Circa 10th century, Kashmir, Maitreya, brass, at the Rietberg Museum in Zürich (Switzerland), photo by Pratapaditya Pal, 1975.

Maitreya as the future buddha, seated with both legs pendents atop a throne supported by recumbent lions, his hands ‘turning the wheel of the law’, the flaming arch behind him topped with streamers.

Tibet, seated Maitreya – with legs pendent (3)

12th century, Tibet, Maitreya, bronze (brass, traces of cold gold on the skin), private collection, photo on Apsarah 

Maitreya is depicted as the future buddha, his hands ‘turning the wheel of dharma‘, his legs pendent, the feet placed on a single lotus fastened to the plinth. When seated this way he may hold a champaka flower or a branch from a champaka/naga tree.

15th century, Tibet, Maitreya, gilt bronze with turquoise, private collection, photo on Beaussant-Lefèvre   .The corners of this throne are decorated with diamond symbols inlaid with turquoise.

16th century, (Tibeto-Chinese?), Maitreya, copper with turquoise and coral inlay, private collection, photo on Ethereal.

Maitreya’s garments and his throne are decorated with various stippled and incised motifs. His feet rest on a projecting platform embellished with large turquoise-inlaid flowers at the front.

16th century, Tibet, Maitreya, bronze with cold gold and turquoise, private collection, photo on Art d’Asie, Christie’s.

Some wheels of dharma incised at the front of this throne are showing on each side of the voluminous folds of Maitreya’s garments. The platform below is decorated with a chased rice-grain and floral pattern and the plinth has a lotus bud in each corner.

16th-17th c., Tibet, Maitreya, gilt bronze, private collection, photo on Sotheby’s

Maitreya in his bodhisattva appearance, holding the stem of flowers that support a wheel (to his right) and a ritual water pot (to his left). He wears Chinese-style accessories including delicate beaded necklaces, large wheel and floral pendant earrings, matching armbands and bracelets.

Circa 16th century, Tibet, Maitreya, copper alloy with cold gold and turquoise, photo on Millon.

Maitreya with a stupa finial on his chignon and a ritual pot on the blue lotus to his left.

Nepal, a few bodhisattvas (6)

Circa 6th century, Nepal, Maitreya and Vajrapani, stone, at the Nakhachuk Bahal, Nakhachuk Tole, Patan (Nepal), photo on the Huntington Archive 

The Huntington Archive gives us the rare opportunity to see this stone shrine from the Licchavi period, in situ and intact. The figure on the first image looks like the historical buddha holding a piece of his robe in his left hand but, being part of a set of four bodhisattvas, represents Maitreya, the future buddha. On the next picture is Vajrapani, whose attribute is placed upright on the lotus he holds in his left hand.

Circa 6th century, Nepal, Avalokiteshvara and Manjushri, stone, at the Nakhachuk Bahal, Nakhachuk Tole, Patan (Nepal), photo on Huntington archive as before.

Avalokiteshvara holds a lotus in his left hand, the right displays supreme generosity as for the previous figures. Finally, Manjushri does the teaching gesture (‘turning the wheel of dharma’) with both hands. This iconography is not normally associated with him when standing except in Nepal, in which case his has in his left hand the stem of a blue lotus that supports a book. The above also has the stem of a blue lotus in his right hand, to support the hilt of a sword.

Undated, Nepal, Akashagarbha, stone, Ilanicaitya, Patan, photo in Stone Mandalas in Nepal by Adalbert J. Gail  

Part of a set of eight bodhisattvas in a stone dharmadatumandala (devoted to Manjushri), this sculpture depicts Akashagarbha showering jewels with the right hand and holding the stem of a lotus that supports three round gems (triratna). Above him, Kirtimukha devours a snake, as is usual in Nepalese art.

Lokeshvara, stone, as above.

Avalokiteshvara holds three crystal-like jewels before his chest and a lotus in his left hand.

Maitreya, stone, as above.

Although the triple gem is not one of his attributes, this bodhisattva is thought to be Maitreya, holding in his left hand the stem of a lotus topped with a wheel.

Samantabhadra, stone, as above.

Samantabhadra normally holds a blue lotus supporting a jewel or a sun disc in his left hand. Identification is further complicated due to the fact that the eight sculptures are not in the expected position on the mandala according to textual description. The author suggests this figure is Samantabhadra, holding in his left hand a lotus supporting the hilt of a sword (Manjushri’s would be in his right hand).

Manjushri, stone, as before.

Manjushri is clearly identified by the manuscript on the lotus in his left hand and the (broken) sword in his right hand.

Ksitigarbha, stone, as before.

Kshitigarbha may hold the stem of a lotus supporting a magic jewel in his right hand while the left hand is in the gesture of supreme generosity. This character does the gesture with his right hand and his lotus supports what seems to be part of a flaming sword.

Vajrapani, stone, as before.

Vajrapani clutches his attribute at heart level and holds the stem of a lotus supporting three large prongs.

Probably Sarvanivaranaviskambhin, stone, as before.

This deity with a five-naga hood must be the last of the ‘eight great bodhisattvas’, Sarvanivarana Vishkambhin. The author interprets the S-shaped object on the lotus in his right hand as being perhaps a noose while pointing out that his banner with a visvajra his not represented (instead, he holds another lotus topped with a flaming jewel).

Mongolia, bodhisattvas (2)

18th century, Mongolia, Manjushri, gilt metal, Zanabazar style, private collection, photo on HAR

White Manjushri, holding the stem of lotuses that support his sword and manuscript, seated on a tall lotus base with broad petals not quite facing each other and a row of stamens at the top, his chignon topped with a flaming jewel. Apart from the bulky shorter necklace this harmonious sculpture is representative of the Zanabazar style.

18th century, Mongolia, Manjushri, gilt metal, at the Imperial Palace Museum in Beijing (China), photo on HAR .

Manjushri wielding a sword in his right hand, the left hand doing the gesture of debate and holding the stem of a lotus that supports his book. His facial features, painted with cold gold and pigments, and his delicate belt and jewellery are typical of the Zanabazar style but his garment, however, is draped loosely over his legs and has a much smaller embroidered hem.

18th century, Mongolia, Manjushri, gilt metal, private collection, photo on HAR .

The same form of Manjushri, seated on a round lotus complete with stamens, supported by a narrow plinth.

18th century, Mongolia, 11-head Avalokiteshvara, gilt metal, private collection, photo on HAR

Avalokiteshvara in his eleven-head and eight-arm form, standing on another type of round lotus base (the pedestal below is probably unrelated), this time with various layers of overlapping scallop-shaped petals going upwards.

18th century, Mongolia. Manjushri, gilt bronze with stones and pigment, private collection, photo on  Sotheby’s

The ritual water pot on the lotus next to his right shoulder and the gesture of debate he does with his right hand correspond to Maitreya when standing, yet the book on the other lotus is associated with Manjushri. Possibly made in the Dolonnor area, this Chinese-style sculpture includes repoussé elements such as the scarf with serpentine ends at ankle level and the lotuses with multiple scrolling leaves. Unlike Zanabar-style works, the petals on the single lotus base are swollen and going downwards.

Gandhara, bodhisattvas (2)

2nd-3rd century, Gandhara, bodhisattva, schist, private collection, photo on lapada

This bodhisattva, which a water pot or a lotus would have identified as Maitreya or Avalokiteshvara respectively, is seated on a cushion atop a throne with a fire altar scene at the front, his halo topped with thick foliage described as sala tree leaves on the above site. His hair is tied in the standard double-loop topknot and his scarf is draped in the traditional manner over the left arm, the right forearm, and forming a loop over his ankles. The thin waist is most unusual.

He wears a headband, armlets, bracelets and only two necklaces, the longer ones with two animal heads (and a lotus?) at the front.

2nd-3rd century, Gandhara, bodhisattva, schist, at the Hirayama Ikuo Silk Road Museum in Yamanashi (Japan).

Here we have the full range of neck adornments, the third one worn across the right shoulder and the fourth one, usually to carry amulet boxes, across the chest like a brahmin’s thread. The leg position, typical of Gandharan art, may correspond to either Maitreya or Avalokiteshvara.

2nd-3rd century, Gandhara, bodhisattva, schist, private collection, photo on Arte Mission.

3rd-5th century, Gandhara, bodhisattva, terracotta, private collection, photo on Ethereal 

The bodhisattva seated at royal ease in a pensive pose, a recurrent theme in Gandharan and post-Gandharan art from the Swat Valley and nearby areas, is usually Avalokiteshvara, identified on the second image through the lotuses he holds in his left hand.