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Rossi & Rossi

Sadakshari Lokeshvara
17th-18th c.
gilded copper
41.5 cm - 16 1/3 in

The bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara is portrayed here as Shadakshari Lokeshvara in the four-armed form. He is seated in vajraparyankasana on a stepped double lotus pedestal. He holds a sacred thread and a lotus flower in his two raised hands, and his two front hands in the gesture of prayer (namaskara mudra) or possibly the manidhara mudra. The latter is the gem-bearing gesture, which alludes to the wish-fulfilling jewel promising enlightenment – this remains concealed to the unattained and might be enclosed within the palms of the deity. He displays the facial features typical of Zanabazar and his school; the stepped pedestal refers to Indian Pala sculpture.

Shadakshari Lokeshvara is also called the Six-syllable bodhisattva. He personifies the mantra om mani padme hum (Hail the Jewel in the Lotus), a magical sound said to reverbate throughout the universe pronouncing the bodhisattva’s vow to save all sentient beings. The Dalai Lamas are said to be emanations of this important iconographic form of Avalokiteshvara.

Avalokiteshvara is one of the most popular Buddhist entities; in Tibet and Mongolia he is looked upon as the representative of the Buddha and guardian of the Buddhist faith, and he is considered Tibet’s tutelary deity. According to tradition, his worship was introduced into Tibet during the seventh century, and King Songtsen Gampo was proclaimed as his incarnation. In the Geluk order, he forms a triad with Manjushri and Vajrapani.

all text, images © Rossi & Rossi


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