Himalayan Art Resources

Item: Avalokiteshvara (Bodhisattva & Buddhist Deity) - Chaturbhuja (4 hands)

སྤྱན་རས་གཟིགས། 观音菩萨
(item no. 819)
Origin Location Western Tibet
Date Range 1300 - 1399
Lineages Uncertain
Size 26.04x39.37cm (10.25x15.50in)
Material Ground Mineral Pigment on Cotton
Collection Rubin Museum of Art
Catalogue # acc.# P1999.5.11
Notes about the Central Figure

Classification: Deity

Appearance: Peaceful

Gender: Male

Interpretation / Description

Shadaksari Avalokiteshvara (Tibetan: yig ge drug pa chen re zi. English: the Six Syllable All Seeing Lord) with the two attendant deities Manidhara and Shadaksari Mahavidya.

"Lord of the World, the form adorned with all ornaments, a body white in colour with four arms; the hair in a tuft, some loose. The left [hand] holds a lotus, right a garland of beads. The additional two hands are held folded at the heart; having Amitabha at the crown of the hair. At the right side is Manidhara having a similar colour and hand objects, the additional hands with folded palms. At the left side is Sadaksari Vidya, similar to the Lord of the World in body colour and hand objects." (From the Bari Gyatsa of Bari Lotsawa Rinchen Drag, 1040-1112).

Peaceful in appearance with gold ornaments, a crown, earrings, necklaces and bracelets, he has a lower garment of blue and red brocade. With the legs folded in vajra posture, seated above a multi-coloured lotus, he is surrounded by a blue areola and nimbus, against a backrest adorned with two white birds. Manidhara on the left is red in colour with the hands folded at the heart. In a relaxed manner he is seated with the right knee raised. At the right is Sadaksari Vidya (the Six Syllable One of Knowledge), beautiful in form, she has round upraised breasts and crossed legs, seated in a relaxed posture. Different versions of the Sadhanasangraha text, a collection of meditation practices of Indian origin from the 10th century, portray the two side attendants both with two arms and sometimes with four.

"Unsullied by faults, a body white of colour, with the perfect buddha adorning the head, seeing beings with the eye of compassion; homage to Avalokiteshvara." (Sakya Liturgical Verse).

Along the top are the five buddhas representing the Five Families of Anuttarayoga Tantra. Seated from the left are buddha Vairochana, white in colour, with the hands performing the mudra of teaching; followed by Akshobhya, blue, with the right hand in earth touching mudra; Amitabha, red, hands in meditation; Ratnasambhava, yellow, right hand in the mudra of generosity; and finally Amoghasiddhi, green, with right in the mudra of fearlessness at the heart. The remaining left hands are placed in the lap. Slightly below at the right is the wrathful bodhisattva Vajrapani, blue, holding a vajra upraised in the right hand, standing in a wrathful posture. At the left side is orange Manjushri, peaceful, holding aloft a sword in the right hand and the stem of a lotus to the heart with the left, blossoming at the shoulder supporting a book.

At the bottom right is a monk with the hands folded at the heart, wearing red robes and seated in a kneeling posture. Three more figures seated along the bottom have suffered the ravages of time and presently remain unidentified.

Avalokiteshvara is the patron bodhisattva of Tibet and practiced by all the various traditions. There are numerous Sarma lineages and different forms of practice which span all four tantric classifications as well as uncounted Kama and Terma (Revealed Treasure) traditions from the Nyingmapa School.

Jeff Watt 5-99

Related Items
Thematic Sets
Painting Style: Western Tibetan
Collection of Rubin Museum of Art: Painting Gallery 8
Buddhist Deity: Avalokiteshvara Main Page
Buddhist Deity: Avalokiteshvara, Chaturbhuja - Four Hands - Main Page
Buddhist Deity: Avalokiteshvara, Chaturbhuja (Three Deity)
Collection of Rubin Museum of Art: Avalokita (Painting)