Title: Figurine of the Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara
Name: Figurine of the Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara
Date: Late 18th-early 19th centry
Dimensions: Figure: 11 x 8 1/2 x 2 3/4 in. (27.9 x 21.6 x 7 cm)
Base: 5 x 6 1/2 in. (12.7 x 16.5 cm)
Credit Line: Gift of Ann and Henry Brunnier. In the Ann and Henry Brunnier Collection, Brunnier Art Museum, University Museums, Iowa State University, Ames, Iowa.
Avalokiteshvara is the bodhisattva of mercy. In the Mahayana and Vajrayana Buddhist traditions, Avalokiteshvara assumes different forms in order to help beings reach enlightenment. This gilt bronze image has eight arms and eleven heads, the uppermost of which is that of Amitabha Buddha, with whom Avalokiteshvara is closely associated. These eleven heads symbolize his eleven principal virtues, which he uses to conquer the eleven desires that can obstruct the attainment of enlightenment. His eight arms usually carry different symbols or form gestures that give him the power to help others.