Himalayan Art Resources

Item: Avalokiteshvara (Bodhisattva & Buddhist Deity) - Shristhikantha

སྤྱན་རས་གཟིགས། 观音菩萨
(item no. 24717)
Origin Location Nepal
Date Range 1900 - 1959
Lineages Buddhist
Material Ground Mineral Pigment on Cotton
Collection Private
Notes about the Central Figure

Alternate Names: Lokeshvara Avalokita Lokanata Lokanatha Mahakarunika

Classification: Deity

Appearance: Peaceful

Gender: Male

Interpretation / Description

This form of Avalokiteshvara is known in Kathmandu, Nepal, as Shristhikantha Lokeshvara. It is clear that the origins for this depiction are rooted in chapter 4 of the Karandavyuha Sutra written in prose dated to the 4th-5th century (possibly Kashmir).

In the Sutra there is a description of a number of Hindu gods arising from the body of Lokeshvara. However, there is no description of Lokeshvara having a red colour, or in a standing posture. It is most likely that the paintings shown below are also based on the much later and extended version of the Karandavyuha Sutra, in verse, popularized in Kathmandu in the first half of the 2nd millennium.


1.22 Bodhisattva Sarva­nīvaraṇa­viṣkambhin asked the Bhagavat, “What were the qualities of Bodhisattva Mahāsattva Avalokiteśvara that you heard the tathāgata describe?”

The Bhagavat said, “Āditya and Candra came from his eyes, Maheśvara came from his forehead, Brahmā came from his shoulders, Nārāyaṇa came from his heart, Devi Sarasvatī came from his canines, Vāyu came from his mouth, Dharaṇī came from his feet, and Varuṇa came from his stomach.

Toh 116. The Basket’s Display. ཟ་མ་ཏོག་བཀོད་པ། · za ma tog bkod pa. Kāraṇḍa­vyūha.

Related Items
Thematic Sets
Buddhist Deity: Avalokita, Shristhikantha (Red, Standing)
Collection: Christies New York, September, 2021 (Painting)