Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara

Figure
14th century (made)
Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara thumbnail 1
Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara thumbnail 2
+2
images
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Buddhism, Room 18, The Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Galleries of Buddhist Art
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

This figure represents the Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara, the Buddhist Lord of Compassion. He is seen here in his popular manifestation as Padmapani, the lotus-bearer. The Bodhisattva’s right hand is lowered in the gesture of granting wishes (varadamudra). His left hand is ready to support the stem of the lotus (padma), but this is now missing.

Padmapani is a Bodhisattva, an enlightened being who voluntarily postponed passing into nirvana so that he could help others to gain salvation. The concept of the Bodhisattva was developed in the Mahayanist school of Buddhist thought, and gained enormous popularity in the Himalayas and the greater Asian world. The stillness and serenity of this figure speaks of the state of harmony to which the Bodhisattva aspires, whilst the flexed and sensuous pose in which he stands links him to the human world. The Bodhisattva’s right hand is lowered in the gesture of granting wishes (varadamudra), and his left hand is poised to support the stem of a lotus (padma), but this is now missing. The figure is richly adorned with jewellery that is inset with precious and semi-precious stones. A five-pointed diadem surrounds his elaborately dressed and raised hair (jatamukuta), which is surmounted by a small image of the Buddha Amitabha of whom Avalokitesvara Padmapani is seen as an emanation.

Newar craftsmen made this finely jewelled image for Tibetan patrons. It was probably produced in Shigatse, central Tibet, from where it was acquired. It exemplifies a long tradition of Newar craftsmen from the Kathmandu Valley working for Tibetan patrons in Tibet. This tradition can be dated back to the 7th century A.D. This masterpiece of Newari metal-casting was acquired by Brigadier-General C.G. Rawlings at Shigatse in 1904, whilst he was en route to Lhasa as part of the British Younghusband expedition. It is recorded that several members of the expedition acquired examples of ‘Lamaist’ art during the course of this journey.
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object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Gilt copper set with natural turquoise (as well as glass simulants), garnets, green transparent glass (foiled and tinted green), and colourless transparent glass (foiled and tinted red).
Brief Description
Figure of the Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara (Padmapani), the Lotus Bearer, gilt-copper set with natural turquoise (as well as glass simulants), garnets, green and colourless glass. Produced in Nepal during the 14th century.
Physical Description
Avalokitesvara, the Buddhist lord of compassion, is represented in his popular manifestation as Padmapani, the Lotus Bearer. Padmapani is a bodhisattva, an enlightened being who voluntarily postponed attaining nirvana, so that he could guide and help others to achieve salvation. The concept of the boddhisattva was developed in the Mahayanist school of Buddhist thought, and it gained enormous popularity in the Himalayas. The stillness and serenity of this figure coveys to the viewer the state of harmony to which the boddhisattva aspires. Whilst the sensuous contrapposto of Padmapani's sleek, androgynous body ties him to the human world.
Dimensions
  • Height: 93cm
  • Width: 34cm
  • Depth: 16.5cm
Gallery Label
The Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara (Padmapani) 1300–1400 Malla dynasty Nepal Gilded copper with precious and semi-precious stones Padmapani, or ‘Bearer of the lotus’, is one of the most important forms of the Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara, the most widely worshipped of all the bodhisattvas. This finely jewelled image was made by Newar craftsmen from the Kathmandu Valley for Tibetan patrons. The figure’s left hand once held the stem of a flowering lotus. Museum no. IM.239-1922 Ex Younghusband Expedition 1904(1/4/2009)
Object history
In 1904 this exquisite sculpture was acquired by Brigadier-General C. G. Rawlings, whilst he was in the Xigaze (Shigatse) District of central Tibet. Rawlings was a member of the Younghusband Expedition, which that year had fought its way from India to Lhasa. This was in order to force Tibet to engage in trade with British India. It was recorded at the time that several members of the expedition acquired examples of "Lamaist" art en route.



By 1922, when this sculpture was purchased for £210, Indian sculptures had in general become increasingly prized for their aesthetic value as well as their antiquarian worth. Previously, there had been a preference for Gandharan works produced in a more Hellenistic style.
Production
Acquired in Shigatse, southern Tibet, and possibly made there.
Summary
This figure represents the Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara, the Buddhist Lord of Compassion. He is seen here in his popular manifestation as Padmapani, the lotus-bearer. The Bodhisattva’s right hand is lowered in the gesture of granting wishes (varadamudra). His left hand is ready to support the stem of the lotus (padma), but this is now missing.



Padmapani is a Bodhisattva, an enlightened being who voluntarily postponed passing into nirvana so that he could help others to gain salvation. The concept of the Bodhisattva was developed in the Mahayanist school of Buddhist thought, and gained enormous popularity in the Himalayas and the greater Asian world. The stillness and serenity of this figure speaks of the state of harmony to which the Bodhisattva aspires, whilst the flexed and sensuous pose in which he stands links him to the human world. The Bodhisattva’s right hand is lowered in the gesture of granting wishes (varadamudra), and his left hand is poised to support the stem of a lotus (padma), but this is now missing. The figure is richly adorned with jewellery that is inset with precious and semi-precious stones. A five-pointed diadem surrounds his elaborately dressed and raised hair (jatamukuta), which is surmounted by a small image of the Buddha Amitabha of whom Avalokitesvara Padmapani is seen as an emanation.



Newar craftsmen made this finely jewelled image for Tibetan patrons. It was probably produced in Shigatse, central Tibet, from where it was acquired. It exemplifies a long tradition of Newar craftsmen from the Kathmandu Valley working for Tibetan patrons in Tibet. This tradition can be dated back to the 7th century A.D. This masterpiece of Newari metal-casting was acquired by Brigadier-General C.G. Rawlings at Shigatse in 1904, whilst he was en route to Lhasa as part of the British Younghusband expedition. It is recorded that several members of the expedition acquired examples of ‘Lamaist’ art during the course of this journey.
Bibliographic References
  • John Guy, A Grand Design, The Arts of the Victoria and Albert Museum, 1997, p240-1
  • Ayers, J. Oriental Art in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London 1983, ISBN 0-85667-120-7p. 91
  • Baker, Malcolm, and Brenda Richardson (eds.), A Grand Design: The Art of the Victoria and Albert Museum, London: V&A Publications, 1999.
  • Orientations; vol. 40. no. 4; May 2009; The Robert H.N. Ho Family Foundation Gallery, Victoria & Albert Museum. Amy Heller, Tibetan Buddhist Sculptures in the Robert H. N. Ho Family Foundation Gallery, p. 58.
  • L'escultura en el temples indis : l'art de la devoció : exposició organitzada per la Fundació "La Caixa" i el Victoria & Albert Museum, Londres. [Barcelona: Obra social, Fundació "la Caixa", c2007 Number: 9788476649466p.43, Cat.104
Collection
Accession Number
IM.239-1922

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record createdJuly 12, 2001
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