VIRTUAL COLLECTION OF ASIAN MASTERPIECES

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Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara
AK-RAK-2000-15
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Why this is a
Masterpiece

The slim male figure is standing with his feet apart, his weight predominantly on his left leg. He is wearing a simple loincloth and no jewelery. The only decoration is on his head. Perhaps the Bodhisattva originally had other loose ornaments that are now lost, like the attributes in his four hands. The artist paid particular attention to the head of the Bodhisattva. His eyes are large and wide, surmounted by prominent eyebrows. A modest moustache is apparent above the full lips of the mouth and the lobes of the ears are elongated. Most remarkable of all is the Bodhisattva's hair. Although the hair of a Bodhisattva is invariably tied in a topknot, here the style is particularly elegant, with successive rows of curls. It is typical of the Prakhon Chai Bodhisattva. Like other images of Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara this statue has a figure of a meditating Buddha in his hair. It is Amitâbha, the spiritual father of Avalokiteshvara.

History of the Object
In 1964 a remarkable find was made in the northeast of Thailand. During a thunderstorm a cellar of a deserted temple complex near the village of Prakhon Chai became exposed. Inside, the local villagers discovered hundreds of bronze figures which had been stored here when they were no longer used. One of these was this Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara, dating from the close of the eighth century. It found its way to the Rijksmuseum through the art trade. UNESCO drew up a charter in 1970 to protect the cultural heritage of the various countries of the world. It stipulates that it is only legal to buy and sell objects that were taken out of a country before 1970. Because this sculpture came from Thailand before 1970, the Rijksmuseum was able to purchase it without any difficulty.

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Type
Sculpture 
Materials
Bronze 
Measurements
h. 79 cm 
Creator name
Unknown 
Creator date
Unknown 
Where it was made
Thailand; Prakhon Chai 
Geography
Thailand 
Time period
AD 8th century ~ AD 8th century 
Creation date
8th Century; c. 750-800 
Function
A Bodhisattva is one who has acquired sufficient insight to attain complete enlightenment, but instead of entering nirvana chooses to help others find the path to enlightenment. 
Acquisition
Purchased in 2000 
Copyright
 
Acknowledgements
 
Owner
Rijksmuseum 
Museum
Rijksmuseum 
Credit line
Purchased with money, given by the Dutch Sponsored Lottery 

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