Himalayan Art Resources

Item: Manjushri (Bodhisattva & Buddhist Deity)

འཇམ་དཔལ་དབྱངས། 文殊师利菩萨
(item no. 89712)
Origin Location Northern India
Date Range 1100 - 1199
Lineages Buddhist
Material Stone, Painted Face/Hair
Collection Private
Notes about the Central Figure

Classification: Deity

Interpretation / Description

Manjushri-ghosha, Kumara (English: Youthful Prince, Melodious Voice): when this photo was taken in December 1980 the sculpture resided in a temple in the Laughing Charnel Ground across from the entrance to the Bodhgaya Temple, Bihar, India. It is said that sometime after that date this sculpture was replaced or moved.

An outline drawing of the sculpture was first made by Francis Buchanan-Hamilton in the winter of 1811-1812. This image was later reproduced in the Martin publication of 1838 (see image below).

This form of Manjushri is non-iconic, or aniconic. It is not described in Tantric texts, meditations or rituals. It is based on the Sutra literature. The pose with the right hand grasping the sword at the chest is seen in a few other sculptures of Manjushri, primarily Western Himalayan standing figures. The left hand turned with the back of the hand resting on the thigh is reminiscent of a royal pose. The left leg pendant is unusual as it typically signifies a more wrathful or fierce manner. Over-all this sculpture is a master work of Pala creativity. The artist has captured the image of Manjushri as a prince with both beauty and strength.

Jeff Watt 1-2009 [updated 6-2018, 8-2018]

(Background information on early publication was provided by Claudine Bautz-Picron).

Martin, Montgomery. 1838. The History, Antiquities, Topography, and Statistics of Eastern India; comprising the districts of Behar, Shahabad, Bhagulpoor, Goruckpoor, Dinajepoor, Puraniya, Rungpoor, & Assam in relation to their Geology, Mineralogy, Botany, Agriculture, Commerce, Manufactures, Fine Arts, Population, Religion, Education, Statistics, Etc. ..., vol. I. Behar (Patna City) and Shahabad, London: WM H. Allen and Co. Leadenhall-street.

Secondary Images
Related Items
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Buddhist Deity: Manjushri (Bari Gyatsa, edited)
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Buddhist Deity: Manjushri Iconography
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Sculpture: Famous Works