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Marcel Nies

3. Avalokitesvara
Champa 8th - 9th century
Bronze, cast in the lost wax method
Height: 62.5cm

The presence of the cosmic Buddha Amithaba in the headdress and the kamandalu depicted in his left hand identify the statue as Avalokitesvara, the bodhisattva of infinite compassion. The two-armed god is depicted in an upright standing posture with both hands raised, his right hand holding a padma lotus bud. His slim body is clad in a long dhoti, comprising a circular hanging shawl on the thighs with side flaps and central pleats descending over the waistbelt. The divinity wears no jewelry with exception of two bracelets and a small diadem. The well-detailed chignon has three layers of braided hair emphasizing the radiance of the god.

The Kingdom of Champa occupied the area which is today central and southern Vietnam. Thanks to its economy Champa reached its heydays in the 8th to 10th centuries when it became an important regional power largely based on maritime trade. The kingdom’s artistic legacy consists mainly of sandstone sculptures and brick buildings, and a small number of bronze statues expressing religious themes. Large collections of Cham art are exhibited at the Museum of Cham Sculpture in Da Nang. Additional collections are housed in the Guimet Museum in Paris, the Museum of Vietnamese History in Saigon, and the Museum of History in Hanoi, the Museum of Fine Arts in Saigon and the Museum of Fine Arts in Hanoi.

The body proportions of this impressive bronze statue are characterized by an elongated torso with a prominent chest, broad shoulders and voluminous arms. The incised facial features, the elongated earlobes and the typical shape of the chignon with diadem are characteristic of the period and reveal Javanese stylistic influence. This important bronze is among the rare and large bronzes from the early Champa period, it has a majestic presence and is complemented by a deep natural patina.

Private collection, Eindhoven, The Netherlands.

E. Guillon, Cham Art, Treasures from the Da Nang Museum, Vietnam, London, 2001, figs. 56 & 177.
N. Van Doanh & N. The Thuc, Dieu Khac Champa, Champa Sculpture, 2004, pp. 29 & 31.
P. Baptiste & T. Zéphir, Trésors d’art du Vietnam, la sculpture du Champa, Paris, 2005, figs. 9, 10, 13, 15, 16 & 18.
J. Guy, Lost Kingdoms, Hindu-Buddhist sculpture of early Southeast Asia, New York, 2014, pp. 262–263, fig. 170.

all text, images © Marcel Nies
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