A very fine Tibetan thirteenth-fourteenth century silver and copper inlaid brass figure of Ṣaḍakṣarī-Lokeśvara, the one-piece hollow cast figure with extensive silver and copper inlays showing the four-armed form of Avalokiteśvara known as Ṣaḍakṣarī who sits in the diamond attitude (vajraparyankasana), with the two principal hands held in front of the chest in respectful adoration and worship (anjali-mudra). Ṣaḍakṣarī is dressed in a cloth, tied around the hips and secured by a belt at the back, on his head adorned with a tall knot of matted hair (jatamakuta) he wears a three-pointed crown in addition to other bejewelled ornaments including a pair of earrings, two necklaces with attached pendants, bracelets on the two principal arms as well as on all four wrists, the figure supported on a more recent shaped base
Tibet, thirteenth-fourteenth century
Height 53 cm.
The work is accompanied by a signed certificate of authenticity by the scholar Ulrich von Schroeder, dated 15th December 2020.
This fine figure of Avalokiteśvara or Ṣaḍakṣarī would have been originally attached to a separately cast lotus pedestal and would have been holding a rosary (aksamala) in his upper right hand as well as a lotus flower in his upper left hand. However, given its age, this Tibetan figure is in a remarkably good state of preservation.
Ṣaḍakṣarī is the foremost patron deity of Tibet, the bodhisattva of compassion and one of the most popular of the hundreds of bodhisattvas commonly depicted in Buddhist art. A bodhisattva is or was a person, either human or divine (occasionally depicted as an animal), who has abandoned all selfish concerns and seeks only the ultimate liberation and happiness of all living beings. The bodhisattva understands that as long as he or she remains trapped in the cycle of birth and death (samsara) owing to greed, anger, ignorance and other vices, there is no way that others can truly be helped. Therefore, driven by concern for the welfare of others, a bodhisattva pursues the spiritual path to Buddhahood. This involves the perfection of generosity (giving to others with the pure motivation to help them); the perfection of morality (avoiding all harm to others, and engaging in activities that benefit others); the perfection of patience (never giving way to anger, and accepting the harm perpetrated by others); the perfection of effort (persevering with enthusiastic efforts in all virtuous activities); the perfection of concentration (training the mind to hold its objects with a calm, clear mind free of all distraction) and the perfection of wisdom (seeing things as they actually are in reality). This the altruistic aspiration to attain the highest Enlightenment was to save all beings from misery and establish in them perfect happiness and as such, the bodhisattva became a focal point for meditation and ritual.