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During the late eighth century, a new expression of the savior bodhisattva appeared in Southeast Asia, inspired by developments in India that promoted esoteric forms of Buddhism. As seen below, richly bejeweled eight and twelve-armed forms of Avalokiteshvara prevailed, marking a new chapter in Southeast Asian Buddhist art. The most important multi-armed bodhisattva icon known in Southeast Asia is the Amoghapasha exhibited here. He displays eight radiating arms, giving expression to his unlimited capacity to grant boons and blessings.

The late eighth century marked the beginning of a new age of Asian internationalism in which the kingdoms of Southeast Asia were linked through thriving trade networks. Religious ideas, rituals, and imagery circulated rapidly, unifying the region and integrating it into greater Asia as never before. Advanced Buddhist teachers at the great Indian monasteries such as Nalanda and Vikramashila generated new visualizations that were canonized in art and transmitted throughout the Buddhist diaspora in the service of advanced Mahayana Buddhism. Southeast Asia was now part of a pan-Asian Buddhist world.

Selected Artworks

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