Kashmiri / Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara / 8th centuryKashmiri
Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara
8th century

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Creator Nationality: Asian; Indian Sub-Continent; Pakistani; Kashmiri
Creator Name-CRT: Kashmiri
Title: Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara
View: Full View
Creation Start Date: 700
Creation End Date: 799
Creation Date: 8th century
Creation Place: Kashmir
Object Type: Sculpture
Classification Term: Bronzes
Materials and Techniques: Copper alloy with inlays of copper and silver
Dimensions: H. 7 7/8 in. (20 cm)
AMICA Contributor: Asia Society
Owner Location: New York, New York, USA
ID Number: 1993.002
Credit Line: Asia Society: Estate of Blanchette Hooker Rockefeller
Rights: http://www.asiasociety.org
Context: Kashmiri arts flourished during the 8th and 9th centuries, a development often attributed to the patronage of King Lalitaditya of the Karakota dynasty (r. c. 724-750), who expanded Kashmir's borders and acquired the great wealth needed to support the large-scale production of art. However, Lalitaditya's predecessors and successors also supported the arts, and the large number of extant works from the 8th-9th centuries reflect the power and influence of Kashmir during this time.

Early Kashmiri sculpturecontains several distinctive iconographic types not found in contemporaneous art from India or the Himalayas, as well as types popular in India as early as the 2nd and 3rd centuries. This 8th-century representation of the Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara illustrates the preservation of north Indian types in the art of Kashmir. Bodhisattvas were represented in such relaxed and pensive poses--with the right hand touching the right cheek--in early Buddhist art from north India, Central Asia, and China; the type continued in East Asian Buddhist art until the 7th century. The precise meaning of the iconography of these figures remains uncertain; however, it seems likely that they represent a bodhisattva seated in paradise, possibly the Tushita Pure Land, waiting forrebirth on earth.

This bodhisattva is identified as Avalokiteshvara by the lotus he holds in his hand, the seated Buddha Amitabha in his headdress, and the antelope skin that is wrapped across his back and left arm. The skin is a reference to ascetic practices and may be linked to the interest in bodhisattvas as ascetics that is found in Indian art from the 4th through 6th centuries and subsequently in Southeast Asian Buddhist art.

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, p. 102.
AMICA ID: ASIA.1993.002
AMICA Library Year: 1999
Media Metadata Rights: Copyright, Asia Society

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