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Mahapratisara, the Buddhist Protectress

Period:
Pala period
Date:
10th century
Culture:
India (Bihar)
Medium:
Black stone
Dimensions:
H. 23 in. (58.4 cm); W. 15 1/2 in. (39.4 cm); D. 7 in. (17.8 cm)
Classification:
Sculpture
Credit Line:
Purchase, Florence and Herbert Irving Gift, 1991
Accession Number:
1991.108
Not on view
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.
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