Himalayan Art Resources

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

སྤྱན་རས་གཟིགས། 观音菩萨
(item no. 83402)
Origin Location Tibet
Date Range 1800 - 1899
Lineages Gelug and 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

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.

Avalokiteshvara in this form is peaceful in appearance, with eleven heads, one thousand hands and upright in a standing posture.

At the upper left is Shakyamuni Buddha, Green Tara and Bhikshuni Shri. At the upper right side are the Three Deities of Long-life: Amitayus Buddha, Ushnishavijaya and White Tara.

At the bottom left side is the standing form of Manjushri, orange in colour, holding a sword and book. On the right side is a standing Vajrapani, blue in colour and holding a vajra scepter.

Lineage of Teachers: 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.

There are a number of different forms and traditions of the Eleven-faced Lokeshvara. The original Sanskrit source literature is the Arya Avalokiteshvara Ekadashamukha Nama Dharani. In this text there is only a mention of the eleven faces with no mention of colour or arrangement of the faces. There is also no mention about arms, or number of arms.

With the form of Lokeshvara having one thousand arms the source literature is the Maha Karunika Dharani Sutra where the one thousand arms are clearly stipulated. In that text there is no mention of the faces, even one face or any number of faces.

Both of the texts have a dharani for Lokeshvara and that dharani appears to be the same for both texts. It is approximately one hundred syllables in length. A short mantra is also taught in the later traditions of the Eleven Faced and Thousand Armed Lokeshvaras, although no short mantra is found in the two early texts. The short mantra in later traditions is borrowed from the Karandavyuha Sutra - om mani padme hum.

Jeff Watt 3-2016

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