• DSC9883

A carved Stele of Avalokiteshvara

Kathmandu Valley

16th-17th century

Polished black stone, with traces of pigment and offerings to surface


Provenance : Private North English collection


This fine polished black stone stele depicts the bodhisattva of compassion Avalokitesvara, standing benevolently on a blooming lotus base in his eleven headed form, Ekādasamukha, with the two principle hands folded in anjali mudra at heart level. The other six radiating around his body, the top left hand holds a lotus flower, the middle hand a bow and arrow, and the lower a water-pot. The top right holds a rosary, the middle the remains of a miror, and the lower holds a wheel. 

Atop a tower of three-tiered faces is the head of the bodhisattva's spiritual father, the dhyani Buddha Amitabha. Peculiarly, in this depiction Avalokitesvara is depicted with eleven auxiliary heads, aside from the main head and crowning head of Amitabha, which in total amount to thirteen heads.

The figure is adorned with princely jewellery and two long streamers that appear to twist in the air at each side. A large garland falls around his knees, covering his thin dhoti and waist scarf. 

The scalloped edges of the stele indicate that is was most likely crafted in the Kathmandu Valley of Nepal, circa 16th-17th century. 

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