Lot 1031
  • 1031


1,500,000 - 2,000,000 USD
bidding is closed


  • Bronze
  • Height: 37  3/4  in. (97 cm)
the standing eleven-headed and eight-armed Avalokiteshvara with primary hands in anjali mudra, the lowered right hand in varada mudra, separately cast ritual implements now missing from the remaining hands, wearing the ornaments of a bodhisattva including a sanghati tied at the waist with a jewelled clasp, armbands and necklaces inset with gems, tripartite bracelets and circular beaded earrings, and an elaborate crown inset with semi-precious stones upon the three principal heads, with a figure of Buddha flanked by adepts to the front of the crown and each face with peaceful countenance, topped by seven heads in three tiers with gem-set crowns and wrathful faces, with the head of Amitabha Buddha appearing above, all heads, hair and crowns adorned with ritual polychromy Himalayan Art Resources item no. 13470.


Acquired privately, April 2006. 

Catalogue Note

The bodhisatttva Ekadashamukha Lokeshvara is depicted with eleven heads, as described in the ancient Indian text ‘Arya Avalokiteshvara Ekadashamukha Nama Dharani’. This form of the bodhisattva has been popular with Tibetan Buddhists since the reintroduction of the faith in the country during the Chidar, or Later Diffusion of Faith, corresponding to around 1000-1200 C. E. The iconography of this example corresponds to eastern Indian Pala period (c. 750-1200) sculpture, such as a twelfth century northern Bengal copper alloy statue depicting Ekadashamukha Lokeshvara now in the Potala, see Ulrich von Schroeder, Buddhist Sculptures in Tibet, Hong Kong, 2001, Vol I. p. 238, pl. 72A.

The cult was not popular in Nepal in this early period, and it may be assumed that it was Indian Buddhist culture that was the source of the deity’s practice in Tibet. Indeed the style of the present example owes much to the artistic traditions of the Pala period, including the linear stance, as seen in the Pala example of the same iconography, and the necklace with distinctive inverted teardrop pendants held by flower petal clasps; compare the necklace pendants on an eleventh century Pala period crowned Buddha in Mindroling, ibid., p. 265, pl. 84C. Also compare the Tibetan 1150-1250 copper alloy Tathagatas at Nyethang monastery, ibid., Vol. II, pp. 1166-7, pls. 310A-E, including the drop necklace, circular beaded earring and armband design, the casting sprues left in place in the crown, and the scrolling vine design of the central element of the crown, including the miniature image of Buddha.

Nyethang was one of the principal residences in Tibet of the Indian guru Atisha (982-1054), founder of the Kadam order, who was known to have employed Indian artists, the legacy of whom is manifest in this important statue of Ekadashamukha Lokeshvara. It remains one of the larger copper alloy examples of the bodhisattva outside Tibet which date to this early formative period of Tibet’s art history; for a large and later example, dating to circa 1400, see Pratapaditya Pal, Himalayas: An Aesthetic Adventure, Chicago, 2003, p. 226, pl. 147.