Himalayan Art Resources

Buddhist Deity: Avalokiteshvara/Hayagriva

Avalokiteshvara Main Page | Swat Valley (Avalokiteshvara)

There are several known examples of this rare form of what has been suggested as a form of Avalokiteshvara with the added characteristic of a horse head. So far all known examples are productions of the Swat Valley based on stylistic characteristics.

The figure is generally peaceful in appearance with three human faces topped with a horse head. He has four arms and holds an attribute in three hands with the first right hand extended in a gesture of generosity. The different examples are not consistent with regard to the hand attributes. Some of the attributes are damaged and not easily identifiable. The figures wear jewel ornaments and heavenly attire and sit in the vajra posture atop a lotus or lion throne base.

At this time there are no Pala, Nepalese or Tibetan examples of this iconographic form of what is possibly Lokeshvara or Hayagriva or the two deities represented together in a single figure. There are currently no identified Sanskrit or Tibetan texts describing this figure.

HAR #10396: Lokeshvara has four arms. The first right hand is in a gesture of generosity. The first left hand holds a vase. The second right hand holds a string of prayer beads (mala). the second left hand holds the stem of a flower blossom.

Jeff Watt 12-2020

Toh 733/906. The Incantation of Avalokiteśvara Hayagrīva (སྤྱན་རས་གཟིགས་དབང་ཕྱུག་ཧ་ཡ་གྲཱི་བའི་གཟུངས། · spyan ras gzigs dbang phyug ha ya grI ba'i gzungs. avalokiteśvarahayagrīvadhāraṇī).