Himalayan Art Resources

Item: Avalokiteshvara (Bodhisattva & Buddhist Deity) - Sahasrabhujalokeshvara (11 faces, 1000 Hands)

སྤྱན་རས་གཟིགས། 观音菩萨
(item no. 40)
Origin Location Central Tibet
Date Range 1900 - 1959
Lineages Gelug and Buddhist
Size 135.89x91.44cm (53.50x36in)
Material Ground Mineral Pigment on Cotton
Collection Rubin Museum of Art
Catalogue # acc.# F1997.1.6
Notes about the Central Figure

Alternate Names: Lokeshvara Avalokita Lokanata Lokanatha Mahakarunika

Classification: Deity

Appearance: Peaceful

Gender: Male

Interpretation / Description

Avalokiteshvara, Sahasrabhuja Ekadasamukha (Tibetan: chen re zig, chag tong shal chu chig. English: the All Seeing Lord with One Thousand Hands and Eleven Faces): from the tradition of Bhikshuni Shri along with the lineage teachers of the Gelug Tradition following the line of Tashi Lhunpo Monastery, Shigatse, Tibet, the home of the Panchen Lamas. (See the Outline Page for Eleven-faced Avalokiteshvara, the Eleven-faces Main Page and the Bhikshuni Shri Main Page). The painting was commissioned by Tagpu Jampal Tenpai Ngudrub (1876-1922/1935).

Avalokiteshvara in this form is peaceful in appearance, with eleven heads, one thousand hands and in a standing posture. He is encircled above by the previous teachers in the lineage beginning with Avalokiteshvara at the upper left and Bhikshuni Shri at the upper right. Descending on the left side beneath Lokeshvara are the early teachers of the lineage. Descending on the right side beneath Bhikshuni Shri are the later teachers of the lineage and specifically those of the Gelug Tradition of Tibetan Buddhism.

At the top center is Amitayus Buddha with red Amitabha on the left and blue Medicine Buddha on the right. Below that is Shakyamuni Buddha in the center with Jowo Atisha wearing an orange hat on the left and Je Tsongkapa wearing a yellow hat on the right.

At the middle left of the composition is yellow Ratnasambhava Buddha, blue Akshobhya Buddha and a standing Manjushri holding an utpala flower supporting a sword and book. At the right side of the composition is white Vairochana Buddha, green Amoghasiddhi Buddha and a standing blue Vajrapani holding an utpala flower supporting a gold vajra scepter.

At the bottom center is red wrathful Hayagriva with White Tara seated on the left and Green Tara seated on the right. Below that is Six-armed Mahakala with White Jambhala riding a dragon on the left and white Sitatapatra holding a parasol on the right.

At the bottom outside right and left sides are two groups of five deities with most riding atop strange creatures such as turtles, snakes and water monsters. These ten figures are all forms of Avalokiteshvara with unique narratives and functions.

Lineage: Avalokiteshvara, Bhikshuni Shri, Dawa Shonnu, Pandita Jnanabhadra, Balpopa Nyewa, Jangsem Dawa Gyaltsen, Nyi Phugpa Chokyi Dragpa, Pupa Dorje Gyalpo, Shangton Drajig, Chidul Tugje Jangchub, Khenchen Dechenpa, Chuzangpa Wangchug Bar, Sherab Bum, Gyalse Togme, Buddhashri, etc.

Jeff Watt 9-2000 [Updated 5-2009]

Sadhana Description:
"...the Arya Eleven-faced One, white, standing with feet together. He has eleven faces, the root face white, right green, left red; above these, the central green, right white and left red; above these, the central red, right green and left white; above these, a wrathful, black face with bared fangs, three eyes and tawny, upward-streaming locks; and above this, a peaceful, red face, with an usnisa, having the appearance of a celibate (monk) and endowed with a neck. The first pair of hands are at the heart, with palms folded. The second right holds a rosary, the third eliminates the hunger and thirst of pretas, and the fourth holds a wheel. The second left holds a lotus, the third a water-pot, and the fourth a bow and arrow. The other 992 hands are boon-granting. In the palm of every hand there is a peaceful eye. A deerskin covers his left breast and the lower part of his body is covered with fine stuffs. He is beautiful with disordered (?) tawny locks, crowned with Amitabha, and adorned with all kinds of jewel ornaments."

From Deities of Tibetan Buddhism, Wisdom Publications, 2000. Translated by Martin Willson from the sadhana text Drup Tab Rinjung of Panchen Tanpai Nyima (1782-1853) the Fourth Panchen Lama: biographical reference.

Front of Painting
English Translation of Inscription: [Name inscriptions for all the figures]

Reverse of Painting
English Translation of Inscription: [Various verses of blessing].

Special Features: (Printed script (Uchen), is black)

Secondary Images
Related Items
Publication: Rinjung Gyatsa
Buddhist Deity: Avalokiteshvara ('Mar Tri ' Description & Bibliography)

Thematic Sets
Buddhist Deity: Avalokiteshvara (Eleven Faces, Lineage)
Collection of Rubin Museum of Art: Avalokita (Painting)
Buddhist Deity: Avalokiteshvara (Bhikshuni Shri)
Subject: Lineage Paintings - Alternating
Buddhist Deity: Avalokita (11 Faces) Masterworks (Painting)
Subject: Universal Deities (Appearance)
Subject: Eyes in Himalayan Art
Subject: Eyes (Deities)
Buddhist Deity: Avalokiteshvara (Eleven Faces)
Subject: Iconographic Bodhisattva
Buddhist Deity: Avalokiteshvara Lineage Paintings
Buddhist Deity: Avalokiteshvara Religious Context
Buddhist Deity: Avalokiteshvara Masterworks (Painting)
Tradition: Gelug Deity Paintings
Collection of Rubin Museum of Art: Painting Gallery 2
Buddhist Deity: Avalokiteshvara Main Page
Painting Style: Men-ri (New)