AGE: – According to Asian Art expert around 15th Century
CONSTRUCTION: – Terracotta
DESCRIPTION: – Nepalese Terracotta Padmapani Avalokiteshvara
HEIGHT: – 19.5cm
WIDTH:– 10cm at Widest part
BASE: – 5.5cm x 9cm
WEIGHT: – 600gms
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Representations of the Nepalese Padmapani Avalokiteshvara are most often made from stone, brass, bronze, wood or depicted in paintings. This representation of Padmapani is made in terracotta, standing on a double lotus pedestal, the hand left holds a lotus stem with a lotus flower rising to shoulder level and another lotus flower behind the right hand. The reredos on the back of the figure has a break with an old repair. (see images).
The lotus is the emblem of Amitabha, the red Buddha of the west and the ‘Lord of the Padmaor Lotus Family’. Amitabha’s qualities are indicative of the redness of fire, vital fluids, evening twilight, the summer season, passion, piety and revelry. Like many Nepalese and Hindu sculptures this statue has a build up of the colour red (vermilion), and traces of yellow, natural pigments used prolifically in Hindu and Nepalese culture, and is seen on a great many Hindu and Nepalese deities.
In his earliest form the Avalokiteshvara Padmapani is referred to as “bearer of the Lotus”, and depicted as a princely looking young male. He is usually seen wearing jewels and holding a lotus flower, an attribute stemming from Indian art, where most images of this deity show the lotus stalk rising from the ground as though moving with the water in which the lotus grows in. This deity is one of the most revered deities in the Mahayana Buddhist tradition practiced in Nepal, Tibet and China and is also referred to as a Bodhisattva.
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Nepalese art developed from the foundation of Gupta art and was modified to a large extent by the Pala influence, as was Burmese art, both eventually developing their own unique versions and styles of both deities and Buddha statues.
The Sri Lankan philosopher Ananda Coomaraswamy (1877-1947) suggested that the lotus holding yaksha figures depicted in early Indian art can be described from an iconographic point of view as that of Padmapani.
In Commarawamy’s writings he states that – “While these figures may not represent Bodhisattva Padmapani, Coomaraswami asserts that when it became necessary to present this Bodhisattva, the type lay ready to hand. He also suggested the likelihood that the very conception of Bodhisattva Padmapani drew from the already existing Padmapani yaksha, like in the case of Vajrapani, who was Buddha’s faithful attendant earlier, but later evolved to an important Bodhisattva of the Buddhist pantheon”.