Tuesday, December 25, 2018

Veheragala Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva Statue, Colombo National Museum

Veheragala Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva Statue, Colombo National Museum
The Veheragala Avalokitesvara Bodhisattva Statue was discovered from Veheragala Monastery in Kahatagasdigiliya in Anuradhapura Distict, Sri Lanka and is currently on display in the Colombo National Museum (Prematilaka & Hewage, 2018). The statue is considered as one of the best five masterpiece sculptures of the world (Prematilaka & Hewage, 2018).

This gilt bronze represents Avalokiteshvara, a Mahayana Bodhisattva who is the emanation of the Dhyani Buddha Amitabha. These figures (Avalokiteshvara) are identified by the Dhyani Buddha on the head-dress or by similar images with the emblem. This Avalokiteswara statue is 49.8 cm height and dated to the 8th-9th centuries C.E (Holt, 1991).

The statue, seated leisurely, is in a combination of attitudes of Rajaleelasana and Lalithasana. The right foot of the statue is bent and kept cross-wise over the seat while the left foot is kept down. The right hand is resting over the right thigh and depicts the Vitarka Mudra [(Mudra of argumentation) Wikramagamage, 1990]. The left hand is kept on the seat outside the left thigh causing the upper body slanted towards the right. The cloth band on the left shoulder and the ripples on the belly are shown in their natural form. The raiment covering the lower body is short and a portion of this cloth is falling in front below the seat (Wikramagamage, 1990). The hair is arranged in the form of Jata-makuta (Wikramagamage, 2004) and several loosed locks are fallen on to the shoulders. The hair-dress is garnished with stones but bears an empty niche in the front. This empty niche, according to Prof. Chandra Wikramagamage, had been used to place a miniature figure of Amitabha Buddha (Wikramagamage, 1990).

1) Holt, J.C., 1991. Buddha in the crown: Avalokitesvara in the Buddhist traditions of Sri Lanka. Oxford University Press. p.86.
2) Prematilaka, L., Hewage, R., 2018. A guide to the National Museum, Colombo: Department of National Museum. ISBN: 978-955-578-035-3. p.12.
3) Wikramagamage, C., 1990. [Wijesekara, N. (Editor in chief)] Section II: 500-100 A.D. Archaeological Department Centenary (1890-1990): Commemorative Series: Vol. IV: Sculpture. p.68
4) Wikramagamage, C., 2004. Heritage of Rajarata: Major natural, cultural and historic sites: Colombo. Central Bank of Sri Lanka. p.85.

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This page was last updated on 28 June 2019


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