Tibetan / Bodhisattva / Late 10th-early 11th centuryTibetan
Late 10th-early 11th century

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Creator Nationality: Asian; Far East Asian; Tibetan
Creator Name-CRT: Tibetan
Title: Bodhisattva
View: Full View
Creation Start Date: 966
Creation End Date: 1033
Creation Date: Late 10th-early 11th century
Creation Place: Western Tibet
Object Type: Sculpture
Materials and Techniques: Brass with inlays of copper and silver
Dimensions: H. 27 1/4 in. (69.2 cm)
AMICA Contributor: Asia Society
Owner Location: New York, New York, USA
ID Number: 1979.045
Credit Line: Asia Society: The Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection
Rights: http://www.asiasociety.org
Context: Tibetan sculpture is characterized by a conservative and complicated iconography, and the acceptance and adaptation of figures, facial types, and clothing associated with many other cultures and various eras. This striking image of a standing bodhisattva, distinguished by the detailed rendering of the lush floral patterns on the skirtlike garment, illustrates the impact of Indian, particularly Kashmiri, traditions on the art of western Tibet in the late 10th and early 11th centuries. The large lotus stalk held by this bodhisattva in his left hand and his relaxed posture suggest that this sculpture may represent Avalokiteshvara. A positive identification is difficult, however, because this sculpture lacks the image of a small seated buddha in the headdress, a defining attribute of Avalokiteshvara. The idealized treatment of the bodhisattva and his long garment derive from the art of India. The interest in musculature--evident in the powerful articulation of the torso, the exaggerated waistline, the shape of the face, and the strong facial features--closely parallels the art of Kashmir; indeed, until very recently this sculpture was considered to be Kashmiri. The pose of the figure and the long garland of flowers encircling him generally characterize works made in areas of western Tibet.

The influence of Kashmiri art on Tibetan sculpture reflects Kashmir's importance as a source of Buddhism and Buddhist art traditions during the second propagation of this religion in the late 10th and early 11th centuries. By the 7th century, both Indian and Chinese forms of Buddhism had been known and practiced in Tibet, and by the 8th century, Buddhism was the state religion. Buddhist influence waned, however, during persecutions that occurred between 840 and 842. In the late 10th century, changes in political power led to the resurgence of the religion, and monks from several areas, notably Kashmir to the west and the Pala kingdom of eastern India, were invited to Tibet to teach and practice.

The importance of Kashmiri aesthetics in this sculpture suggests that it may have been made by a Kashmiri artist working in Tibet. Several Kashmiri artists are known to have traveled to western Tibet with the teacher Rinchen Zangpo (958-1055), who had gone to Kashmir in search of texts and images. Rinchen Zangpo is known to have lived and taught in the Guge region of western Tibet, where members of the royal family were housed during the disintegration of the Tibetan empire during the 9th to 11th centuries. Yet the elegantly elongated proportions, the elaborate jewelry, and the large lotus seen in this sculpture of a bodhisattva are common in the art of all countries in the western Himalayas during the 10th and 11th centuries, attesting to the impact of traveling monks and artists during this period.

Related Document Description: Asia Society. Handbook of the Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection. New York: Asia Society, [1981], p. 24.
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. 64, 65.
Related Document Description: Huntington, John C. 'Three Essays on Himalayan Metal Images.' Apollo (November 1983), p. 420.
Related Document Description: Klimburg-Salter, Deborah E., et al. The Silk Route and the Diamond Path: Esoteric Buddhist Art on the Trans-Himalayan Trade Routes. Los Angeles: UCLA Art Council, 1982, pp. 104, 134.
Related Document Description: Lee, Sherman E. Asian Art: Selections from the Collection of Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd--Part II. New York: Asia Society, 1975, pp. 12, 20.
Related Document Description: Pal, Pratapaditya. 'Kashmir and the Tibetan Connection.' Marg 40, no. 2, p. 63.
Related Document Description: Pal, Pratapaditya. 'Off the Silk Route and on the Diamond Path? A Review.' Art International 26 (April-June 1983), pp. 47-52.
Related Document Description: Ransick, Jean. 'Review of The Silk Route and the Diamond Path.' Oriental Art 29 (Summer 1983), pp. 201, 203.
Related Document Description: Rhie, Marylin M., and Robert A. F. Thurman. From the Land of the Snows: Buddhist Art of Tibet. Amherst, Mass.: Mead Art Museum, Amherst College, 1984.
Related Document Description: Schroeder, Ulrich von. Indo-Tibetan Bronzes. Hong Kong: Visual Dharma, 1981, p. 130.
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. 49, 123.
Related Document Description: Young, Mahonri Sharp. 'Letter from the U.S.A.: The Second Seventy.' Apollo (February 1975), pp. 136, 138.
AMICA ID: ASIA.1979.045
AMICA Library Year: 1998
Media Metadata Rights: Copyright, Asia Society

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