A RARE AND IMPRESSIVE PAINTING OF AN ELEVEN-HEADED AND MULTI-ARMED AVALOKITESVARA DATED 2ND YEAR OF THE CHONGZHEN PERIOD OF THE GREAT MING (1629 AD)
120,000 - 150,000 USD
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finely and subtly painted depicting the bodhisattva Avalokitesvara with ten heads and forty-eight arms, his principal hands held together before his chest in anjali mudra, and holding a kalasha vessel in his lap, with the remaining fan of arms surrounding the deity and holding a multitude of ritual implements in the hands, each with an eye in the palm, two arms held high above the tier of heads supporting Amitabha, the Buddha of Infinite Light, the bodhisattva wearing flowing robes and scarves, and with tresses of long black hair falling to the shoulders, seated in vajraparyankasana on a lotus flower supported by an elaborately detailed lion throne and surrounded by a flaming halo, all set against a landscape filled with a host of Buddhist and Daoist deities, dignitaries and disciples, signed di zi Zhou Bangzhang, dated second year of the Chongzhen reign, yi yi (1629), and with one seal of the artist, on an elaborately painted and gilt mount
Yamanaka Shokai, Osaka.
Acquired from the above during the Taisho period (1912-1926).
Thereafter by descent in the family of the present owner.
The popular bodhisattva Avalokitesvara has myriad forms and numerous epithets: The Compassionate One, Lord of the World, Lotus Bearer. He is the embodiment of absolute compassion for all sentient beings, with infinite devotion to the alleviation of suffering. The bodhisattva, Being of Enlightenment, has renounced the state of Buddhahood to care for the world of samsara. This multi-armed and multi-headed manifestation represents the bodhisattva in his most esoteric form as Sahasrabhuja-sahasranetra Avalokitesvara, literally 'with a thousand arms and a thousand eyes', only a fraction of which are portrayed here. The ten heads symbolize the steps on the path to Buddhist enlightenment, represented here by the figure of Amitabha Buddha held aloft; Amitabha being the spiritual progenitor of the bodhisattva. The principal hands held before the heart symbolically protect the jewel of this enlightenment. Numerous inscribed cartouches throughout the painting identify the characters within the landscape and include the thirty-six revered officials and the twenty-eight lunar mansions.