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A23. Avalokitesvara Padmapani, 15.3cm, Nepal 15th century.

Avalokitesvara literally means the lord who looks down from on high. He is the embodiment of compassion and he is depicted in many different forms. In Nepal one of the most popular deities is Avalokitesvara as Padmapani, the lotus bearer.

In this fine, small sculpture, Padmapani stands on a low single lotus stand with his body in a gently triple flexed position. In his left hand he holds the stem of a lotus that flowers at his left shoulder while his right hand is in the boon granting [varada mudra] position. He wears bracelets, armlets, elaborate necklaces a sacred thread or yajnopavita and earrings and ribbons fly out from behind his ears.

An unusual feature of this Padmapani is that he wears a tall mitre like crown of a type usually associated with Indra. However Indra should have a horizontal third eye in his forehead whereas this sculpture has an urna. If the sculpture represented Indra it would also have had a vajra resting on the lotus and there is no evidence of one having been attached there.

Heeramanek Collection sale.
Sotheby’s New York, 2/11/1988, lot 84.
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