Himalayan Art Resources

Subject: Bodhisattva (Relaxed Posture)

Bodhisattva (Relaxed Posture) | Manjushri (Relaxed Posture) | Maitreya (Relaxed Posture) | Avalokiteshvara (Relaxed Posture) | Avalokiteshvara 'Thinking' | Indra in a Relaxed Posture

A Bodhisattva in a 'relaxed posture' is a way of describing the sitting manner of the figures of Manjushri, Avalokiteshvara, Maitreya and the God Indra. These four in particular, and with examples, portray a specific look and attitude of a seated bodhisattva (plus one god). It is possible that other bodhisattvas in the same posture will be identified.

The key characteristics of the iconographic form are the vertical length of the left leg turned and flat - horizontal to the seat. The right leg is partially folded with the knee raised and the foot squarely planted with the sole of the foot pressing on the seat. The right hand or elbow might be resting on the knee.

The three Bodhisattva appear to be non-iconic from a Tantric perspective. This means that they are not Tantric deities based on a particular Tantric text and described in sadhana meditation practices. It is more likely to be an image of Manjushri following from the Mahayana Sutras and appearing in this particular form based on popular artistic convention. It can be called popular because of the number of sculptural examples following this particular depiction with slight variations in appearance such as how the right arm is placed on the knee, ornaments, etc. The general arrangement of the legs and body posture are the same for all of the examples.

In the Nepalese artistic tradition the God Indra when seated can be found depicted in almost the identical posture. In this seated posture Indra has the two unique characteristics of the large flat, fan-shaped, crown. Secondly, he has the attribute of a blossoming flower with the stem held in the left hand. Atop the blossom is a horizontal vajra scepter.

The nearest Tantric examples of Manjushri and Avalokiteshvara in this relxed poature can be found with the forms of the two deities when seated on a lion mount such as Vadiraja Simhanada Manjushri and Simhanada Avalokiteshvara.

Jeff Watt 10-2012