Avalokiteshvara (Boston Museum)

A Statue of Avalokiteshvara belonging to the 8th century is presently preserved in the Ross-Coomaraswamy Collection at the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston in Massachusetts, United States. Discovered in Sri Lanka, the statue represents the Buddhist god Avalokiteshvara in the seated position.

Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara from the Boston Museum

Accession number: 17.2312                    Production date: 8th century A.D.                    Production place: Sri Lanka
Materials: Bronze                                       Dimensions: 15.24 cm (6 in.)                           Subjects: Buddhist deity

The find spot of the statue is unknown (Mudiyanse, 1967). It was purchased in Sri Lanka by Ananda K. Coomaraswamy (1887-1947) in 1909 and he sold it to Denman Waldo Ross (1853-1935), Cambridge in 1917. Ross handed over it to the Museum of Fine Arts, Boston in the same year.

The statue
The statue represents God Avalokiteshvara, a Mahayana Bodhisattva who is the emanation of the Dhyani Buddha Amitabha. Depicted in Maha Rajalila attitude, he is seated on an Asana which is a plain rectangular throne. The right leg is bent and placed on the seat while the left leg hangs down touching a double lotus pedestal (Dohanian, 1983; Mudiyanse, 1967). The lower garment that has been tightly tied to the hip below the navel extends up to the knee and is decorated with punch-marked circles clustered in groups of three (Dohanian, 1983). The right hand is raised showing the Kataka Mudra while the left hand is placed on the seat giving support to the partially inclined body (Dohanian, 1983). The hair is gathered up into a Jatamakuta and the Yajnopavita is shown across the breast (Mudiyanse, 1967). The loosed hair strands fall on each shoulder and on the back of the head is a rosette (Mudiyanse, 1967). In front of the Jatamakuta is a small niche enclosing the Dhyani Buddha Amitabha (Dohanian, 1983; Mudiyanse, 1967). The eyes are bent towards the ground.

1) Dohanian, D.K., 1983. Sinhalese Sculptures in the Pallava Style. Archives of Asian Art, 36, pp.6-21.
2) Mudiyanse, N., 1967. Mahayana Monuments in Ceylon. M.D. Gunasena. pp.46-47.

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This page was last updated on 1 January 2022

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