This very fine gilded (gold-plated) copper alloy plaque shows the bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara, the saviour deity of Mahayana Buddhism, as Padmapani (the lotus bearer). It is an excellent example of Nepalese metal craft showing the deity in a classic pose that has balance and poise. It is a composition which has survived in Nepal for almost a thousand years, stressing the astonishing continuity of form and style in Nepalese religious iconography.
The figure stands on a double lotus base, and is surrounded by an extravagant nimbus of multiple flaming, pearled and scrolling borders.
The right hand is in the varada position (the gesture of generosity), while the left hand grasps the stem of the lotus. The lower torso, hips and legs follow this movement and the head is inclined slightly to balance the position of the lower body.
The face is serene and purposefully expressionless to convey inward calm.
Ample jewellery and other ornaments enhance the figure. There are necklaces, armlets, bracelets and earrings all with multiple gems.
The body is clothed only from the waist to the knee, and the upavita or sacred cord crosses over the left shoulder and falls all the way to the right knee.
Avalokiteshvara wears a tall, jewelled crown which includes a central plaque embossed with the transcendental Buddha.
The plaque is in excellent condition. It comes with a quality, custom-made stand. Overall, the plaque and stand present an elegant and very decorative ensemble.
Casey, J., et al, Divine Presence: Arts of India and the Himalayas, Casa Asia/5 Continents, 2003.
Kerin, M.R., Artful Beneficence: Selections from the David R. Nalin Himalayan Art Collection, Rubin Museum of Art, 2009.
Pal, P., Art of Nepal, Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1985.
Waldschmidt, E & R.L., Nepal: Art Treasures from the Himalayas, Elek Books, 1967.