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Seal with mantra in vartu script

Period:
Ming dynasty (1368–1644), probably Yongle period (1403–24)
Culture:
China
Medium:
Ivory and iron inlaid with gold
Dimensions:
H. 2 in. (5.1 cm); W. 1 1/8 in. (2.9 cm)
Classification:
Ivories
Credit Line:
Purchase, Florence and Herbert Irving Gift,1993
Accession Number:
1993.457
On view at The Met Fifth Avenue in Gallery 219
Vartu is one of the scripts developed in India for writing religious texts. It was also used in Tibet. The invocation on this Chinese seal reads a ra pa ca na. It is dedicated to one the forms of the bodhisattva Manjushri (Wenshu), who symbolizes wisdom.
Inscription: Six-character mantra engraved on base in Vartu, which is an ancient Indian script adapted from cursive Sanskrit by Tibetan monks for ritual use from the 11th century onwards. The transcription of the mantra reas "aa-ra-pa-tza-na-dhi" which is a mantra of Manjusri, the Buddha of wisdom. An inlaid turquoise bead marks the orientation of the seal inscription.
[ J. J. Lally & Co. , New York, until 1993; sold to MMA]
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