A RARE SILVER AND GILT-COPPER BUDDHIST TRIAD WITH SEMI-PRECIOUS STONE INLAY EASTERN INDIA, PALA, 12TH CENTURY
- bronze, silver
Himalayan Art Resources item no. 13441
The three seated deities are cast in silver, their faces heightened with cold gold and with traces of polychromy to the faces and hair. The stepped base, lotus stalk and triple thrones are cast in copper, then gilded and inlaid with semi-precious stones in the numerous apertures at the base and central deity. Compare the stepped base and triple stalk elements with a slightly earlier eleventh century Pala-period bronze triad from the Red Palace in Lhasa, see Ulrich von Schroeder, Buddhist Sculptures in Tibet, Hong Kong, 2001, vol. I, pp. 272-273, cat. nos 88C-D (fig. 1); and also the tall, ribbed jatamukata, crown, finial, and fanning sash with an eleventh/twelfth century Pala-period bronze triad also in the Red Palace, ibid., pp. 270-271, cat. no. 87B.
The deities depicted in the current work represent the archetypal Buddhist triad of the deities of the shadakshari or six-syllabled mantra “om mani padme hum.” The central figure is Shadakshari Lokeshvara, holding the primary hands in anjalimudra at the heart center and clutching a wish-fulfilling gem between them. The secondary left hand holds a lotus flower, and the right hand holds a mala or rosary. He wears the bodhisattva jewellery, a yagñopavitum across the left shoulder, and an ankle-length striped dhoti secured with an elegant flourish at the back. To the proper left of Shadakshari Lokeshvara appears to be a smaller Shadakshari Lokeshvara or Shadakshari Mahavidya, whose posture and attributes mirror those of the central deity. To the proper right of Shadakshari Lokeshvara is Manidhara, the holder (dhara) of the jewel (mani), seated in rajalilasana, or the posture of royal ease. His left hand rests on his knee, holding the stem of a stylised lotus flower. The elbow of the left arm rests of the raised left knee, and the left hand holds his characteristic jewel.