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    Nepalese Terracotta Tile Depicting Avalokiteshvara as Samantamukha

    circa 17th-18th century

    height: 26cm, width: 19.4cm, depth: 3.2cm, weight: 1,738g



    private collection, UK

    – scroll down to see further images –

    This highly-detailed, large terracotta plaque shows the bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara standing with at least one attendant to one side and within a cusped arch. The tile is from Nepal and is accompanied by a quality, custom-made black metal display stand.

    The tile shows  Avalokiteshvara in the deity’s six-armed, eleven-headed manifestation of Samantamukha, or the ‘all-sided one’ – the deity that looks in all directions to protect all creatures. In this manifestation, the deity is also known as Ekadas Lokeswar, or the ‘compassionate one’.

    Avalokiteshvara is the bodhisattva (‘buddha-to-be’) of infinite compassion and mercy. Avalokiteshvara exemplifies the bodhisattva’s resolve to postpone his own buddhahood until he has helped every sentient being on earth achieve liberation from suffering and the process of death and rebirth. And as Ekadas Lokeswar, Avalokiteshvara descended to hell and converted the wicked and liberated them. However, he discovered that for every wicked person saved, another instantly took his place and his head then split eleven ways from grief and despair.

    Such plaques were produced in several locations in Nepal including the Kathmandu Valley and Mustang.

    The tile has some age-related loss to the lower left corner but otherwise is in fine condition.


    Proser, A., (ed.), Pilgrimage and Buddhist Art, Asia Society Museum/Yale University Press, 2010.

    Sakya, Jnan Bahadur, Short Description of Gods, Goddesses and Ritual Objects of Buddhism and Hinduism in Nepal, Handicraft Association of Nepal, 2000.

    Waldschmidt, E & R.L., Nepal: Art Treasures from the Himalayas, Elek Books, 1967.

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