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Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara
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Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara

Description Conservation Provenance Credit
Description The positions of this figure’s four hands and the flower he holds identify him as a particular form of the bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara. Known as Shadakshari Lokeshvara, he joins the palms of his two front hands at his heart in the gesture of respectful greeting, and he holds a lotus in his back left hand; his back right hand, now empty, once held prayer beads. As Shadakshari Lokeshvara (“Six-Syllable Lord of the World”), Avalokiteshvara has an especially strong association with the six-syllable mantra devotees recite to invoke him: Om mani padme hum, “Om, Jewel-Lotus One.” The head of the Buddha Amitabha emerges from the top of his piled-up hair, a variation from this Buddha’s usual placement in Avalokiteshvara’s crown.

The Avalokitesvara is cast from a copper alloy (brass or bronze) with incised decoration, cold paint and semi-precious stones. The copper alloy surface is gilded. The facial areas are pigmented and painted. The hair is blue, lips red and brows black. The skin is first covered with a white ground layer followed by gold powder paint. The space under the pedestal is hollow and may contain prayer scrolls or other material. The bottom is sealed by a sheet of copper with a punched flower in the center.

The paint on the head had some minor losses and lifting areas. The fragile areas were consolidated with a butyl methacrylate adhesive that did not cause any visual change in color, matte surface or general appearance of the paint.

Date Description Narrative
7/21/2016ExaminationExamined for accession
7/12/2017TreatmentTreated for exhibition
Provenance Purchased by Walter Hauser [1], Charlottesville, Virginia, 1964-65; given to Walters Art Museum, 2016. [1] Purchased from an unknown dealer or bazaar shop in Kalimpong or Darjeeling in West Bengal
Credit Gift of Walter Hauser, 2016

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16th-early 17th century
gilded copper alloy with paint and semiprecious stones
Accession Number
H: 7 5/16 × W: 4 5/16 × D: 3 9/16 in. (18.6 × 11 × 9 cm)
  • Tibet (Place of Origin)


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