Thai / Four-armed Avalokiteshvara (The Bodhisattva of Infinite Compassion) / ca. second quarter of the 8th centuryThai
Four-armed Avalokiteshvara (The Bodhisattva of Infinite Compassion)
ca. second quarter of the 8th century

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Creator Nationality: Asian; Southeast Asian; Thai
Creator Name-CRT: Thai
Title: Four-armed Avalokiteshvara (The Bodhisattva of Infinite Compassion)
Title Type: Object name
View: Full View
Creation Start Date: 725
Creation End Date: 749
Creation Date: ca. second quarter of the 8th century
Object Type: Sculpture
Materials and Techniques: Bronze with silver and black glass or obsidian inlay in eyes
Dimensions: H. 56 in. (142.2 cm)
AMICA Contributor: The Metropolitan Museum of Art
Owner Location: New York, New York, USA
ID Number: 67.234
Credit Line: Rogers Fund, 1967

In the Buddhist pantheon the Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara is revered as the personification of compassion. He is almost always identified through the depiction of his "spiritual father," the Buddha Amitabha, seated in his hair. In Southeast Asia, perhaps during the sixth or seventh century, there developed, quite independently of Indian religion, a cult specifically devoted to the four-armed Avalokiteshvara as well as to the four-armed messianic Bodhisattva Maitreya. Both figures are well represented in the famous hoard of bronzes found in 1964 at Prakhon Chai in eastern Thailand, from which this large and splendid four-armed Avalokiteshvara came. The silvery sheen on the surface of this sculpture derives from the high tin content used in the making of Prakhon Chai bronzes. The use of silver and obsidian inlay for the eyes is also typical. Avalokiteshvara stands in a peaceful frontal position with a slight shift of weight to his left leg. He wears a short skirtlike garment tied at his waist with a rope, and his long hair is fashioned into an elegant topknot. Avalokiteshvara's skimpy clothing and lack of jewelry distinguish this representation of the bodhisattva from the more traditional regal images found throughout Asia. Ascetic bodhisattvas predominate at Prakhon Chai, possibly reflecting the spread through the region of early Esoteric Buddhism at that time.

AMICA ID: MMA_.67.234
AMICA Library Year: 2000
Media Metadata Rights: Copyright The Metropolitan Museum of Art

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