Mon, 22/08/2016 - 14:28
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Bodhisatva Avalokiteshwara Statue from Sanchi Stupa is now at Victoria Albert Museum, London.

Avalokiteśvara (Sanskrit: अवलोकितेश्वर, "Lord who looks down", Tibetan: སྤྱན་རས་གཟིགས་, Wylie: spyan ras gzigs, THL: Chenrézik) is a bodhisattva who embodies the compassion of all Buddhas. This bodhisattva is variably depicted and described and is portrayed in different cultures as either female or male. In Chinese Buddhism, Avalokiteśvara has become the somewhat different female figure Guanyin. In Cambodia, he appears as Lokeśvara.

The "Sanchi Torso" was discovered in 1883 during excavations of portions of the western gateway (torana) of Stupa number 1 at Sanchi. Its precise identification remained ambiguous until 1971 when the existence of two fragments of a companion figure was identified at the site. Traces of the nagapuspa, the flower symbol of the Bodhisattva Maitreya, identified the newly discovered figure and removed any doubts that the V&A torso represents the other premier Buddhist saviour figure, the Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara. Both bodhisattvas would once almost certainly have flanked a monumental Buddha image within a temple setting.

The figure is one of the masterpieces of Indian Mahayana art. The torso appears to wear a waistcloth, the border of the upper hem being ornamented with a foliated scroll. There is a girdle with small kirti-mukha clasp, the upper band being engraved with small birds, elephants, rosettes and other conventional motifs. Other details include a broad jewelled necklace with small bell-pendants and a skin of the Black Buck (krishnajina) worn over the left shoulder, passing across the body and around the right side.

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