Eleven-Headed Bodhisattva of Compassion (Avalokiteshvara)

Eleven-Headed Bodhisattva of Compassion (Avalokiteshvara)

around 1000

Gilt bronze with silver and copper inlay

Overall: 39.4 x 14 x 7.6 cm (15 1/2 x 5 1/2 x 3 in.)

Andrew R. and Martha Holden Jennings Fund 1975.101



One of the finest surviving examples of its kind, this rare six-armed form of Avalokiteshvara has the slender athletic figure and penetrating expression associated with the art of Kashmir, the main source for western Tibetan styles. This Bodhisattva combines the qualities of a prince and an ascetic, with his crown and jewels combined with the yogi's antelope skin over his left shoulder and prayer beads in his middle right hand. Representing the range of Avalokiteshvara's forms and aspects, his eleven heads are remarkably articulated with individualized features. They follow textual descriptions that describe his three placid faces, three fierce faces, three terrifying howling faces, and one laughing face, all surmounted by a head of the Buddha Amitabha, with whom he is closely associated. Tongues and lips have been inlaid with copper to extraordinary effect, and a miniature seated figure of Amitabha Buddha has been placed in the center of every crown.


Priestly Tradition
Eleven Heads
Cultural Crossroads
Bodhisattva of Compassion
See also

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