Figurine: Boddhisattva of Mercy, Avalokitesvara
|Artifact Identification||Figurine: Boddhisattva of Mercy, Avalokitesvara (1985.17.0001)|
|Period/Date||Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), 15th – 16th century|
|Dimension 1 (Height)||62.3 cm|
|Dimension 2 (Width)||30.8 cm|
|Dimension 3 (Depth)||10.0 cm|
|Manufacturing Processes||Cast, Chased|
|Munsell Color Information||Moderate Brown (7.5YR 4/4) -ns|
Featured Artifact Highlight 1985.17.0001 Mahayana and Vajrayena Buddhist deity Avalokiteshvara is the bodhisattva of compassion. A bodhisattva is a being who has attained the state of enlightenment but has not moved on to become a Buddha, choosing to assist others with finding the way to enlightenment. There are ten stages of a bodhisattva’s spiritual development. In one stage, bodhisattvas are no longer subject to the forces of natural laws and can assume any form they wish, be in several places at once, and move about at the speed of thought. Thus Avalokiteshvara has many manifestations. This statue shows one of the manifestations of Avalokiteshvara called Ekadasha-mahakarunika-Lokesvara who has eleven heads and eight arms. Just as there are many manifestations of the bodhisattva himself, there are several versions of the legend explaining his eleven heads. The main story line is this: Ekadasha descended into hell with the intention of saving souls. He brought a number of souls to the intermediate paradise, Sukhavait, discovering that for every soul he saved, another took their place. Ekadasha’s head broke into ten pieces when he discovered the amount of evil in the world and the hopelessness of saving all mankind. Amitahba, Ekadasha’s father, then made a new head from each of the ten broken pieces and placed them on the body of his son. Nine of the faces are full of love with floral crowns, one face is evil with a crown of skulls, and the eleventh face on top is the head of Amitabha himself. (name highlight with definition: Amitabha is one of the five transcendental Buddhas) In Buddhist imagery every position of the body and object held have a meaning. On this statue, the nine heads, in sets of three, represent the world of desire, the world of living forms, and the world without form. Two hands in the center are holding a wish-fulfilling gem. In one left hand an open lotus flower symbolizing purity. In another left hand is a bow and arrow. The arrow is the symbol of alertness and consciousness. The arrow with the bow is the symbol of the path and purpose, method and wisdom, and accurate determination. The third left hand is holding a vase or jug. Another right hand is holding the “wheel of combined spiritual teaching and benevolent governance”. The lowest right hand is open, palm up. This mudra (a symbolic gesture) symbolizes bestowal of supreme accomplishment. For More Information: Jansen, Eva Rudy. The Book of Buddhas: Ritual Symbolism used on Buddhist Statuary and Ritual Objects. Diever, Holland: Binkey Kok Publications, 1990. Pal, Pratapaditya (organized by). Light of Asia: Buddha Sakyamuni in Asian Art. Los Angeles, California: Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1984. Zwalf, W., ed. Buddhism: Art and Faith. London, England: British Museum Publications Limited, 1985.
Jansen, Eva Rudy. The Book of Buddhas: Ritual Symbolism used on Buddhist Statuary and Ritual Objects. Diever, Holland: Binkey Kok Publications, 1990. Pal, Pratapaditya (organized by). Light of Asia: Buddha Sakyamuni in Asian Art. Los Angeles, California: Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1984. Zwalf, W., ed. Buddhism: Art and Faith. London, England: British Museum Publications Limited, 1985.
|Credit Line/Dedication||Gift of Betty Ann Knight in Memory of Mrs. A. R. Knight|