India, Kashmir, late 10th-early 11th century
brass with silver and copper inlay, Overall: h. 98.10 cm (38 9/16 inches); Base: w. 28.20 cm (11 1/16 inches). John L. Severance Fund 1966.30
The Tibetan inscription on the pedestal identifies the owner of this stunning image as Nagaraja, a royal monk from western Tibet who was instrumental in revitalizing Buddhism in this region. Sculptures like this were the stylistic source for subsequent artistic traditions in western Tibet. The wear on the sculpture's face indicates that it was actively worshipped in Kashmir for some time before it was brought to Tibet.
The slender athletic form of the body is clearly revealed. Vestiges of pleat lines that can be traced to the toga-like robes of Greco-Roman figurines-brought centuries earlier to the Indus River region-appear like stylized waves over the torso. The areas of articulation along the borders and hems convey a sense of energy emitting from the figure. His expression is serene, with silver and copper used to animate the face. His upraised right hand indicates that his teachings lead to the freedom from all fear.