Distemper on wood; Each: 2 1/8 x 22 1/8 in. (5.4 x 56.2 cm)
Fletcher and Rogers Funds, 1976 (1976.192.1–2)
This remarkably well-preserved pair of wooden covers were for a Buddhist palm-leaf manuscript. Although their excellent condition would suggest that they were rarely handled, the wear around the four holes through which strings were threaded to keep the manuscript pages together indicates otherwise. Each cover has nine figures, shown seated on lotus pedestals, surrounded by aureoles and separated by hanging fly whisks. One cover depicts nine female deities; each makes a different gesture with her left hand and holds a staff in her right hand topped by a flanged object and a flaming jewel. The other cover shows, from left to right: Avalokiteshvara, the Bodhisattva of Compassion; Manjushri, the Bodhisattva of Wisdom; Amoghasiddhi, Amitabha, Akshobhya, Vairocana, and Ratnasambhava, the buddhas of the five directions (tathagatha); a male bodhisattva making the gesture of teaching (dharmachakramudra) and lastly, another male bodhisattva, bowing toward the preceeding deities while performing the gesture of adoration (anjalimudra).