Detail View: The AMICA Library: Bodhisattva

AMICA Library Year: 
Object Type: 
Creator Nationality: 
Asian; Indian Sub-Continent; Nepalese
Creator Name-CRT: 
Full view
Creation Date: 
Early Malla period, 13th century
Creation Start Date: 
Creation End Date: 
Materials and Techniques: 
Gilt copper with inlays of semiprecious stone
Classification Term: 
Creation Place: 
H. 18 3/4 in. (47.6 cm)
AMICA Contributor: 
Asia Society
Owner Location: 
New York, New York, USA
ID Number: 
Credit Line: 
Asia Society: The Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection
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 and Tibet--there are also mutual influences between Nepali art and that of other styles found throughout the Himalayan region.

The combination of a relaxed and somewhat playful pose--seen, for example, in the whimsical upturn of the toes--and elaborate jewelry date this sculpture of a seated bodhisattva to the 13th century. It may represent Avalokiteshvara, the Bodhisattva of Compassion, although there is no seated Amitabha Buddha in his headdress, a typical attribute of this deity. However, the antelope skin (complete with head) wrapped around the bodhisattva's left forearm is sometimes cited as an attribute of Avalokiteshvara. The bodhisattva's left hand is in the gesture of teaching (vitarkamudra, commonly found in images of Avalokiteshvara when he is shown in conjunction with those of Amitabha. In this case, however, the seated posture would suggest that this sculpture represents Avalokiteshvara in the Pure Land of Sukhavati rather than as a guide for souls.

Related Document Description: 
Asia Society. Handbook of the Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection. New York: Asia Society, [1981], p. 25.
Related Document Description: 
Huntingon, John C. 'Three Essays on Himalayan Metal Images.' Apollo (November 1983), pp. 422-25.
Related Document Description: 
Pal, Pratapaditya. Nepal: Where the Gods Are Young. New York: Asia Society in association with John Weatherhill, 1975, pp. 40, 76.
Related Document Description: 
Schroeder, Ulrich von. Indo-Tibetan Bronzes. Hong Kong: Visual Dharma, 1981, p. 346.
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. 52, 124.
Related Image Identifier Link: