Distemper and gold on cloth; 40 3/8 x 31 1/4 in. (102.5 x 79.4 cm)
Gift of Margery and Harry Kahn, 1985 (1985.390.3)
Shadakshari Lokeshvara is a form of the merciful and compassionate Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara. The "patron saint" of Tibet, he is known as the Lokeshvara of the Six Mystical Syllables: om mani pad me hum (Hail to the jewel in the lotus). All Dalai Lamas are believed to be manifestations of this deity.
Against a gold background, Shadakshari Lokeshvara is seated cross-legged on a lotus pedestal. The four-armed deity holds his usual attributes, a rosary and a lotus, and has two hands in the position of adoration. He is surrounded by thirty-three Buddhist divinities and monks placed among stylized clouds.
The fine line drawing, almost total absence of color, the treatment of the cloud patterns, and the dragon in the lower right corner are indications of the influence of early Ming-period Chinese art. The flowing draperies and billowing lotus flowers are also departures from the more stylized, less naturalistic depictions in both Indian and Nepalese art, the two main sources of early Tibetan painting.