Nepalese / Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara in the Form of Amoghapasha Lokeshvara / Three Malla Kingdoms period, 16th-17th centuryNepalese
Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara in the Form of Amoghapasha Lokeshvara
Three Malla Kingdoms period, 16th-17th century

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Creator Nationality: Asian; Indian Sub-Continent; Nepalese
Creator Name-CRT: Nepalese
Title: Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara in the Form of Amoghapasha Lokeshvara
View: Full View
Creation Start Date: 1500
Creation End Date: 1699
Creation Date: Three Malla Kingdoms period, 16th-17th century
Creation Place: Nepal
Object Type: Sculpture
Classification Term: Bronzes
Materials and Techniques: Gilt copper alloy
Dimensions: H. 11 in. (27.9 cm)
AMICA Contributor: Asia Society
Owner Location: New York, New York, USA
ID Number: 1979.050
Credit Line: Asia Society: The Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection
Context: Historically, Nepal consisted of a much smaller region than the modern nation, which was formed during the 18th century, encompasses today. It included only the section known as the Kathmandu Valley and a few outlying areas. Nepali art was created by artists of Newari descent working within this limited geographic area, and for this reason exhibits a certain conservatism and consistency. Yet because of Nepal's critical location--linking north and east India with other nations of the Himalayas such as Tibet--there are also mutual influences between Nepali art and that of other styles found throughout the Himalayan region.

The Amitabha image in his headdress and the attributes in his six hands identify this seated figure as Avalokiteshvara in the form of Amoghapasha Lokeshvara, or Lokeshvara of the Infallible Noose. He is so named for the rope held here in his bottom right hand. Once ensnared in this sacred noose, the devotee must tell the truth about and to himself, and this ensnarement can break the bonds of illusion and help a practitioner achieve enlightenment. The middle and top right hands hold a ritual instrument known as a vajra, or thunderbolt, and a fly whisk. The left hands hold (from back to front) a ritual scepter, a water pot, and a lotus. Amoghapasha Lokeshvara is accompanied by two snake-headed semidivinities known as nagas. He is seated in the posture of royal ease (maharajalilasana) on a lotus pedestal that rises from a pond. The leaves and buds of the lotus are flamboyantly represented as a series of swirling forms, and two lions decorate the stem.

Amoghapasha Lokeshvara is one of the tutelary deities of the Kathmandu Valley, and this form was frequently represented in sculpture and painting. A special rite, performed in the eighth day of the bright fortnight of each month, was dedicated to this manifestation of the Bodhisattva of Compassion, and it is possible that sculptures such as this one were the focus of this ritual.

The oval shape of this figure's face, compared with other Nepali sculptures, and the depiction of his hairline as a series of loose curls link this work to Buddhist sculpture made in Tibet and China. On the other hand, the flamboyant treatment of the lotus leaves and the style of garments worn by the attendant nagas indicate a provenance in Nepal. The lack of volume in the treatment of the physique, the interest in design seen in the treatment of the cloth and the lotus, and the rigidity of the figure typify sculptures made in the 16th and 17th centuries.

Related Document Description: Asia Society. Handbook of the Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection. New York: Asia Society, [1981], p. 26.
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. 275-76.
Related Document Description: Rhie, Marylin M. 'The Buddhist Art of Tibet: From the Land of Snows.' Arts of Asia (January-February 1985), pp. 90, 92.
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, pp. 15, 16.
AMICA ID: ASIA.1979.050
AMICA Library Year: 1998
Media Metadata Rights: Copyright, Asia Society

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