EKADASHAMUKHA AVALOKITESVARA, THE 11-HEADED, 42-ARMED 'BODHISATTVA OF COMPASSION'
15.000 € - 20.000 €
Description:Tibet, 14th ct,
H. 18 cm
Art-historically and iconographically important sculpture. Many details of this sculpture, e.g. the lotus sprouting from the base, among others, refer to the tradition of Densatil. The universal helpfulness, and active compassion, of this Bodhisattva is reflected in Avalokiteshvara's many manifestations, culminating in an eleven-headed-eight-armed,-forty-two-armed or a -thousand-armed emanation, as Ekadashamukha. In the ornamental body of the Samboghakaya, the Bodhisattva is shown in royal appearance, sumptuously robed and adorned. For example, his sixfold ornaments - crown, ear ornaments, chains around the neck and long chain, and rings on the limbs - represent devotion, morality, patience, strength, immersion and insight. His nine faces, stacked three high, show a benevolent expression. The single head above is of wrathful energy, meant to trigger higher mindfulness in meditators, and the top one represents the head of Buddha Amitabha. Symbolically, the eleven faces point to the four cardinal directions, the four intermediate directions, zenith, nadir and middle, emblematic of the universal orientation of his all-encompassing compassion (bodhicitta). The appearance of the thousand-armed deity Ekadashamukha is three-tiered and involves the three levels of consciousness of body, speech and mind, according to the doctrine of the three bodies (trikaya) - Dharmakaya, Sambhoghakaya and Nirmanakaya. Thus, the thousand-armed deity divides into three bodies. Its arms are divided into eight main arms, thirty-two middle arms and nine hundred and sixty outer arms - together a thousand arms. The eight arms hold as attributes, as follows: his upper right hand a prayer cord (mala), the opposite hand a triple-flowered utpala flower (lotus). Two of his particularly emphasised hands are shaped in front of the chest to signify emptiness, symbol of the suspension of duality. The two outward-facing middle hands hold a mirror (self-knowledge, self-control), and opposite a bow and arrow (purposefulness - these attributes are missing here), the two downward-facing hands show the wish-granting gesture on the right, the left holds a golden water bottle with water of life (amrita). The remaining thirty-two arms of this figure symbolise the ornamental body, the "body of pleasure" - (samboghakaya). In the body of enjoyment, the Buddha nature manifests itself in an idealised form with the thirty-two bodily characteristics of the world ruler. This body is also the plane on which all deities of any rank are projected and pictured. The thirty-two hands show, among other things, the mudra of "emptiness", with the thumb and one finger touching at the tip, thus forming a circle. Ekadashamukha Avlokiteshvara - "The One Who Looks Down with Kindness", is closely related to one of the most popular texts of Mahayana Buddhism, the Prajnaparamita-hridaya Sutra, the "Heart Sutra". In it, the Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara instructs the Sublime Monk Sariputra about emptiness, and how to study the profound Prajnaparamita-hridaya Sutra. The essence of the Prajna-Paramita Sutra is: "Form is emptiness, and emptiness is also form. Form is not different from emptiness, emptiness is not different from form. What is form that is emptiness, what is emptiness that is form." Appearance and emptiness are indistinguishable from each other - "Appearing, empty and both not different." (Milarepa). The Bodhisattva is depicted on a stepped altar-like plinth, with two rows of encircling lotus leaves. From the base unfolds a branched lotus branch with a closed bud, a slightly open and a fully open blossom, symbol of the Three Times. The lotus is the symbol of the Padma family to which Avalokiteshvara belongs and at the same time a symbol of purity. To the left and right of the bodhisattva are two water bottles containing water of life. Copper alloy, fire-gilded; pigments, stones, reverse: closed compartment for consecration, base opened.
Since the 1970s in an old German private collection, acquired by the present owner in the 1980s
Literature: Olaf Czaja, Medieval Rule in Tibet; I+II, Verlag der österreichischen Akademie der Wissenschaften; Vienna, 2013. On the iconography: Michael von Brück, Weisheit der Leere; Wichtige Sutra-Texte des Mahayana-Buddhismus; Kösel Verlag, Munich, 2000; 228f. Garchen Rinpoche, Mahamudra und wie man mit drei Nägeln den Kern trifft; Otter Verlag, 2008
Wear, slightly chipped