Preview from our @AsiaWeekNY
exhibition; The Boddhisattva of wisdom, Mañjuśrī, 14-15th century, Tibet, 11.6 h × 8.0 w × 7.0 d cm, Bronze alloy with traces of mercuric gilding, Inscribed along base
Mañjuśrī, the Boddhisattva of Wisdom, is depicted iconically, with hands in dharmacakra mudra, each holding lotus stems with utpala flowers supporting the symbols of wisdom (sword and book). Several stylistic features are of note. The strap going around the waist is bound at the knee with a piece of cloth that hangs down to the ankle. Thin horizontal striations accentuate the jewel studded belt and other jewelry hanging from the waist. The third eye (urna) is a long rectangle, and the thick chainlike braids of hair are knotted into a crown, while one braid hangs down the front, a thick braid to either side, and three braids together straight down the back. Multiple pieces of cloth hang from the waist on the backside, one to either side, and a loop and a singlet from the center.
This work is stylistically extremely similar to a bronze depicting the Boddhisattva Maitreya in the Asian Art Museum in San Francisco. The second line of the inscription is identical as well. The two works, however, are not from the same set, as evidenced by (a) the difference in size (14cm vs 12 cm height), (b) the difference in the alloy composition, (c) the presence of gold pigment on the present work, (d the flatter rendering of the utpala flowers here. This work may be slightly earlier than the 15th century work. The phrase dpal 'bar refers symbolically to person who commissioned the work, making reference to their role in leading people; reading bdag as the royal I, it is likley that the work was commissioned by a a pious king (chos rgyal). There likely existed a tradition of patronage of icons of Boddhisattvas in this particular style, starting from the 14th-15th century, and extending to the 18th century. -
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