Six-Armed Avalokiteshvara Expounding the Dharma: Folio from a Manuscript of the Ashtasahasrika Prajnaparamita (Perfection of Wisdom)
early 12th century
India (West Bengal) or Bangladesh
Opaque watercolor on palm leaf
2 3/4 x 16 1/2 in. (7 x 41.9 cm)
Purchase, Lila Acheson Wallace Gift, 2001
Not on view
This depiction of Avalokiteshvara is part of a group of illuminations from a dispersed manuscript. This text was understood to contain the totality of Mahayana ideology in eight thousand verses. As the placement of Avalokiteshvara and the other deities does not relate to the content of the text, it appears that their function relates to treating the book as an object to be venerated, the interspersed Buddhist having auspicious and protective roles. The text is written in a black carbon-based ink, while the illustrations were executed in mineral- and vegetable-based pigments.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Early Buddhist Manuscript Painting: The Palm-Leaf Tradition," July 29, 2008–March 22, 2009.