Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Mahapratisara, the Buddhist Protectress

Pala period
10th century
India, Bihar
Black stone
H. 23 in. (58.4 cm); W. 15 1/2 in. (39.4 cm); D. 7 in. (17.8 cm)
Credit Line:
Purchase, Florence and Herbert Irving Gift, 1991
Accession Number:
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 238
The eight-armed goddess Mahapratisara is an emanation of Ratnasambhava, the “jewel-born” meditation Buddha. She sits in deep meditation in a yogic posture (sattvasana), enthroned on a lotus seat and resting on a cloth-draped lion throne. She holds an array of attributes, mostly the weapons employed in the Buddhist notion of “cutting away illusions”—axe, sword, club, and discus—and in her lower hands holds a vajra (thunderbolt scepter) and a rosary. Another lowered hand holds a palm-leaf manuscript (pustaka), an attribute commonly associated with the wisdom goddess Prajnaparamita. An inscription on the backplate provides a passage of Buddhist creed, probably a magical charm (dharani), often found on Pala period Buddhist steles. A kneeling donor is depicted before the lion throne.
Sydney. Art Gallery of New South Wales. "Goddess: Divine Energy," October 13, 2006–January 28, 2007.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Early Buddhist Manuscript Painting: The Palm-Leaf Tradition," July 29, 2008–March 22, 2009.

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