Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara with One Thousand Hands and One Thousand Eyes (Qianshou Qianyan Guanyin 千手千眼觀音菩薩)
Dali kingdom (938–1253)
Gilt arsenical bronze; lost wax cast
H. 8 1/4 in. (21 cm); W. 7 in. (17.8 cm); D. 4 3/8 in. (11.1 cm)
Rogers Fund, 1956
Although painted depictions of this powerful form of Avalokiteshvara often detail the bodhisattva’s one thousand hands, sculptures such as the one seen here frequently follow a convention in which only twenty-two hands are shown. Avalokiteshvara holds his two primary hands in a prayerful gesture before his chest, while the remaining twenty are paired at right and left, bearing implements that illustrate the potency of this important manifestation of the Bodhisattva of Compassion. For example, the lower two hands hold a miraculous lasso and rosary, while the upper two hold disks symbolic of the sun (left) and the moon (right).
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