Eastern Indian / Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara in the Form of Khasarpana Lokeshvara / Pala period, late 11th-early 12th centuryEastern Indian
Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara in the Form of Khasarpana Lokeshvara
Pala period, late 11th-early 12th century

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Creator Nationality: Asian; Indian Sub-Continent; Indian
Creator Dates/Places: Eastern Indian
Creator Active Place: Eastern Indian
Creator Name-CRT: Eastern Indian
Title: Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara in the Form of Khasarpana Lokeshvara
View: Full View
Creation Start Date: 1067
Creation End Date: 1133
Creation Date: Pala period, late 11th-early 12th century
Creation Place: India, Bengal
Object Type: Sculpture
Classification Term: Reliefs
Materials and Techniques: Phyllite
Dimensions: H. 54 3/4 in. (139.1 cm)
AMICA Contributor: Asia Society
Owner Location: New York, New York, USA
ID Number: 1979.039
Credit Line: Asia Society: The Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection
Rights: http://www.asiasociety.org
Context: One of the longest lasting and most important Buddhist cultures of India developed and flourished in eastern India from the 8th to the 12th centuries. During this period, Bihar and Bengal--present-day West Bengal state and the nation of Bangladesh--were primarily under the control of the Pala family. However, various other families, in particular the Senas, also controlled smaller sections of this region at different times. Monks from all over Asia traveled to eastern India to study Buddhism at the famous monasteries there. As a result, the influence of Pala-style art spread throughout Asia. Pala contributions to Buddhist art include the development of a new figural type, which was loosely based on prototypes developed during the Gupta period (c. 320-c. 500) in north and north-central India, and the evolution of a more complicated iconography that illustrates contemporary changes in Buddhist thought.

This image of Avalokiteshvara, the Bodhisattva of Compassion, shows the deity in the posture of relaxation (lalitasana), often seen in Pala-period images of princely bodhisattvas, probably to symbolize their activity and accessibility. Its rich carvings, elaborate details, and pointed tops date this relief to the late 11th or early 12th century.

Avalokiteshvara is worshipped in a wide array of forms, and in this case is represented as Khasarpana Lokeshvara. The Khasarpana, or 'sky-gliding,' formis youthful, has two arms, and wears his hair in a tall matted coiffure with an image of Amitabha Buddha on his headdress. The five directional buddhas are seated on lotus pedestals at the top of the sculpture. Female deities stand to either side of the central figure: the two-armed figure to the bodhisattva's right is Tara, and the four-armed figure with a stupa in her headdress is Bhirkuti.

Esoteric Buddhism includes an astonishing number of deities in a mind-boggling array of forms; the secondaryfigures in a composition such as this relief function as symbols reinforcing the theme--here the importance of compassion--and help in identification of the main deity. The figures on the base of the relief include a preta or 'hungry ghost' named Suchimukha ('needle-nosed'), seated beneath Avalokiteshvara's outstretched right hand, which is held in the gesture of charity or offering. This composition illustrates the belief that Avalokiteshvara feeds nectar to the hungry ghosts as a symbol of his infinitecompassion for all human beings. In addition, a long inscription engraved at the bottom of the base begins with the traditional Buddhist consecratory formula and offers pious wishes for the enlightenment of all beings.

Related Document Description: Asia Society. Handbook of the Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection. New York: Asia Society, [1981], p. 21.
Related Document Description: Huntington, Susan L. 'Pre Pala and Pala Period Sculptures in the Rockefeller Collection.' Apollo (November 1983), pp. 373-76.
Related Document Description: Huntington, Susan L., and John C. Huntington. Leaves from the Bodhi Tree: The Art of Pala India (8th-12th Centuries) and Its International Legacy. Dayton and Seattle: Dayton Art Institute and University of Washington Press, 1990, pp. 159-61.
Related Document Description: Lee, Sherman E. Asian Art: Selections from the Collection of Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd. New York: Asia Society, 1970, pp. 16, 17, 31.
Related Document Description: Newman, Richard. The Stone Sculpture of India: A Study of the Materials Used by Indian Sculptors from ca. 2nd Century B.C. to the 16th Century. Cambridge, Mass.: Harvard University Art Museums, Center for Conservation and Technical Studies, 1984, pp. 34, 68, 74, 84.
Related Document Description: Treasures of Asian Art: Selections from the Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection, The Asia Society, New York. Hong Kong and Singapore: Hong Kong Museum of Art and National Museum Singapore, 1993, pp. 60, 61.
Related Document Description: Treasures of Asian Art: Selections from the Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection, The Asia Society, New York. Tokyo: Idemitsu Museum of Arts, 1992, pp. 47, 122.
Related Document Description: Young, Mahonri Sharp. 'Treasures of the Orient: A Rockefeller Collection.' Apollo (November 1970), p. 332.
AMICA ID: ASIA.1979.039
AMICA Library Year: 1999
Media Metadata Rights: Copyright, Asia Society

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