Himalayan Art Resources

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

སྤྱན་རས་གཟིགས། 观音菩萨
(item no. 83423)
Origin Location China
Date Range 1700 - 1799
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 top center is Vajradhara Buddha accompanied by two siddha figures. Directly below is Atisha along with Dromton and Putowa. Descending from the top right and left sides are the Indian lineage of teachers for the Eleven Faced Lokeshvara. They include such notabes as Nagrajna, Asanga and Bhikshuni Shri.

Directly to the right and left sides of the central Lokeshvara are the four Buddhas: white Vairochana, green Amoghasiddhi, yellow Ratnasambhava and blue Akshobhya. Red Amitabha symbolically appears on the crown of the head of Lokeshvara. At the lower left is Green Tara and on the right side is White Tara.

In the lower composition are the wrathful deities with the meditational deity Vajrabhairava at the center. Below to the left are Yama Dharmaraja standing atop a buffalo foloowed by Shadbhuja Mahakala with six arms. On the ight side are Hayagriva, red, with six arms and Begtse Chen, red, holding a sword upraised.

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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Buddhist Deity: Avalokiteshvara (Eleven Faces)