India, ca. 17th century CE. A finely carved sculpture, hand carved from a single piece of white marble with creamy inclusions, depicting an Avalokitesvara - a bodhisattva figure who embodies the compassion of all Buddhas. This example, being female, may represent Vajra Tara, a female aspect of Avalokitesvara who possesses powers to allay obstacles and foster the development of the mind and bring about enlightenment. Shown with three heads and skillfully rendered with the flowing elegant simplicity of her volumes contrasting brilliantly with the delicate tracery of the elaborate jewelry and decorative elements. A powerful example, replete with expert technique and artistry as well as layers of iconographical meaning. Size: 14.5" W x 22.5" H (36.8 cm x 57.2 cm); 30.75" H (78.1 cm) on included custom stand.
The term Bodhisattva is derived from the word bodhi which means enlightenment, and a bodhisattva is an enlightened being who foregoes entering paradise in order to assist others to achieve enlightenment or buddahood. Bodhisattvas are among the most compassionate beings in the universe, devoting themselves to saving the suffering. Traditionally depicted as less austere than Buddhas with graceful postures and elegant garments, this piece is no exception, though she is nude. Vajra Tara (also Vajratara) is opulently bedecked with multiple beaded strands, grand lotus blossom earrings, and a magnificent headdress featuring Buddha seated with hands in a contemplation gesture. Vajratara usually has a vajra on the top of a crown; however, this is not a necessary entity and could have been left out in accordance with the artist's interpretation. Her necklaces and garlands drape around her neck and cascade over her bare breasts.
Provenance: private S.H. collection, Santa Clara, California, USA; acquired from J. Bagot Arqueologia-Ancient Art gallery, Barcelona, Spain
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