likely padmapani

Gilt Bodhisattva

54 inches (137.2 cm.)

Western Tibet

11th century AD

BDC 8409.117 - ND/57-01

External image

External image

The Bodhisattva, most likely Padmapani, stands frontally upon a large lotus podium, in the classic tribhanga posture, his left hip slightly flexed. He is supported mainly by his right leg, the left leg and foot placed slightly forward and with the toes raised, as if about to walk forward. His features are extremely well modeled in the manner of a celestial being of exquisite beauty. The eyebrows are two bow-like arches, the eyes are almond-shaped under heavy lids and have a contemplative, introspective yet somewhat haughty gaze. The nose is of medium size, pointed and refined. The cheeks are full and the lips smiling. The chin is accented and the ears large. The features are finely chiseled. The hair is piled up high in tiered scallops, forming a huge chignon, like a rising mountain peak, capped by a lotus and a heavily gilded cintamani finial top. This rendering of a “perfect” compassionate Bodhisattva wears a highly ornate triple-lobed crown held in placed by a double beaded band wrapped around the crown of his head. Each lobe of the crown is decorated by a beaded arc enclosing a downward pointed triangle with circular center, another partial triangle and finial over. Highly stylized folded and flared ribbons stand out at either side of the Bodhisattva’s head. His broad chest is bare.

The Bodhisattva has an extremely well built physique, with chest muscles, abdomen and hips modeled in a stylized and sensual manner, successfully showcasing the transcendental sentiment of the icon and the plasticity of the high-classic “Kashmiri” Indian art style. The figure wears an artistically draped dhoti hanging largely over his right leg, patterned with engraved elaborate foliate and swirl motifs which are in-filled in red mineral pigment over the gold ground. The dhoti drapes and hangs high over his thigh to his right side and descends artfully in a series of symmetrically folded pleats.

The Bodhisattva wears exquisite jewelry. The elongated lobes of his large ears are ornamented with elaborate tiered ear-rings, a fine double small beaded necklace around his neck and a larger one with foliate pendants hangs over the upper part of his chest. A beaded chain, similar to a Brahmin yajnopravit, hangs over his left shoulder and drapes below his navel. He has elaborate armlets, bracelets and anklets. A waist belt made of looped chains with bud-like pendants, holds the dhoti in place with a large lotus clasp, immediately below his accented navel. A long garland of flowers, finely chiseled in high relief and with alternating red and black infill over the gold ground, hangs around his neck and drapes over his upper arms, behind his right hip and falls to just over his ankles. His right hand, with palm deeply engraved with auspicious lines, is in the varada gesture of “bestowing” (mystical giving and protecting). His left hand, which is positioned in front of the long garland, gestures artfully by his left hip. The lotus podium, which is a recent addition, is decorated with double lotus petals, their edges and centers in relief.