Himalayan Art Resources

Buddhist Deity: Avalokita, Shristhikantha (Red, Standing)

Avalokiteshvara (Iconic Forms)

Subjects, Topics & Types:
- Description (below)
- Context & Iconography
- Single Face
- Eleven Faces
- Multiple Faces
- Arya (Pagpa) Lokeshvara
- Masterworks
- Source Text: The Basket’s Display (Kāraṇḍa­vyūha Sutra)
- Red Avalokiteshvara
- Confusions
- Others...

- Shristhikantha Avalokita
- Red Avalokiteshvara
- Shiva in Buddhist Art

Study Guide:
- Origins
- Iconographic Forms
- Indian Gods

In the Sutra there is a description of a number of Hindu gods arising from the body of Lokeshvara. However, there is no description of Lokeshvara having a red colour, or in a standing posture. It is most likely that the paintings shown below are also based on the much later and extended version of the Karandavyuha Sutra, in verse, popularized in Kathmandu in the first half of the 2nd millennium.

This form of Avalokiteshvara is known in Kathmandu, Nepal, as Shristhikantha Lokeshvara. It is clear that the origins for this depiction are rooted in chapter 4 of the Karandavyuha Sutra written in prose dated to the 4th-5th century (possibly Kashmir).

Karandavyuha Sutra:
"From the eyes are the sun [Surya] and moon [Chandra], from the forehead Maheshvara [Shiva], from the shoulder Brahma, from the heart the Great Powerful One [Vishnu], from the two teeth the Goddess Sarasvati, from the mouth all of the wind is born [Vayu], from the feet earth [Bhudevi], and from the belly arises the Water God [Varuna]." bka' 'gyur (stog pho brang bris ma). 'phags pa za ma tog bkod pa shes bya ba theg pa chen po'i mdo. Volume 74, Chapter 4, pages 501-502.

List of Gods:
- Surya (eyes)
- Chandra (eyes)
- Shiva (forehead)
- Brahma (shoulder)
- Vishnu (heart)
- Sarasvati (teeth)
- Vayu (mouth)
- Bhudevi (feet)
- Varuna (belly)

Database Search: All Images

Jeff Watt 2-2013 [updated 2-2016, 4-2020]

84000: Translating the Words of the Buddha: The Basket’s Display (Kāraṇḍa­vyūha, ’’phags pa za ma tog bkod pa zhes bya ba theg pa chen po’i mdo)