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Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara

8th-9th century


Gilt copper alloy

H. 13 1/4 x W. 5 x D. 4 3/4 in. (H. 33.7 cm)

Asia Society, New York: Estate of Blanchette Hooker Rockefeller, 1992.3

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Avalokiteshvara, the Bodhisattva of Compassion, can be identified by the small seated image of the Buddha Amitabha, his spiritual progenitor, in his crown. He stands in a relaxed posture, his right hand in the gesture of bestowing blessings. The long cord that runs from his left shoulder and across his right thigh represents a sacred thread and symbolizes Avalokiteshvara's high social and religious status. By about the 6th century C.E., he had become the most popular bodhisattva in Buddhism.