This is a superb example of the craftsmanship and elegance of pieces from the ateliers founded by Zanabazar (1635—1723), the renowned Mongolian master craftsman, artist and religious leader. Hallmarks of bronzework from the ateliers of Zanabazar include exceptionally fine gilding, the lithe and youthful treatment of the body, distinctive facial characteristics such as high foreheads, finely arched eyebrows and wide-bridged aquiline noses, long beaded necklaces which reach to the navel, and circular multi-layered lotus bases with incised striping.
The current work is one of the few Mongolian Zanabazar-school bronzes to have retained its original prabhamandala
; compare with another standing Maitreya with complete prabhamandala
in the Fogg Museum at Harvard University, see G. Béguin and D. Dashbaldan, Trésors de Mongolie, Paris, 1993, p. 122, fig. 2.
The current work depicts the bodhisattva
Avalokiteshvara in the ekadashamukha
or eleven-headed form. The ten lower heads represent the dasabhumi
or ten stages of enlightenment, while the topmost head depicts the Buddha Amitabha. Eight-armed Ekadashamukhalokeshavara holds the two primary hands in anjali mudra
clasping a chintamani
at the heart center, a kundika
in the secondary right hand and the secondary left hand in varada mudra
, the tertiary hands both in vajra mudra
, a mala
in the quaternary right hand and a lotus in the quaternary left hand.
Himalayan Art Resources item no. 12936