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Paintings > Thangka > On the Lookout for Distressed Souls
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On the Lookout for Distressed Souls

On the Lookout for Distressed Souls

On the Lookout for Distressed Souls

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Black Meditational Tibetan Buddhist Thangka Painting - with 24 carat gold

13.5" x 20.0"
Item Code:
$305.00   Shipping Free - 4 to 6 days
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On the Lookout for Distressed Souls

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Viewed 2251 times since 2nd Oct, 2008
This thangka depicts the Eleven-Headed Avalokiteshvara with a thousand hands and thousand eyes (an eye on the palm of each hand). In this form Avalokiteshvara is also known as Samantamukha or the 'All-sided one' – the god who looks in every direction in order to save all creatures.

He is shown here standing on a disk placed on a lotus throne. The complexion of his body is light yellow. The thousand arms form an aura behind him, and the first eight hands hold particular symbols or attributes, the remaining making the gesture of charity (Varada). Among the first eight hands, the principal hands are in prayer (anjali) position. The upper right hand is counting a rosary, the middle one a wheel and the lower one is in varada mudra and also holding an arrow. The upper left hand has a lotus flower, the middle one bow and arrow, and the lower one a water jar. The eleven heads are arranged in five series from below upwards of 3,3,2,2, and 1. The topmost head is that of Amitabha, the spiritual father of the Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara. The first three heads are yellow in complexion, while the second three heads are in red colour. The first two heads from the bottom are in deep brown and the next two heads are in blue colour. The topmost head of Amitabha is in red colour. The eleven heads symbolize the 'Synthesis of space': the four directions, the four intermediate points, the zenith and nadir. The heads of third and fourth rows are wrathful which symbolize dominant action.

All the heads, except that of Amitabha, wears a crown. Avalokiteshvara is adorned with the usual ornaments of a Bodhisattva. Moreover, he is wearing flowing silk scarves around his shoulders and there is an antelope skin over his left shoulder, with the animal's head on his left breast. The draped two coloured silk skirt and its covering are impressive.

The rim of the aureole is encircled with leaves, flowers, wrathful figures, mythological animals and a Garuda with outstretched wings at the top. On the top corners are two Shakyapa lamas and at the bottom are Hayagriva (on proper right), Brahma, Vishnu and Shiva (Centre) and Sridevi or Dpal-Ldan-Lha-mo (on proper left).

The legend describing the origin of the eleven heads of Avalokiteshvara says that he had promised his spiritual father, Amitabha, the god of eternal light, that he would never give up practicing tender loving compassion and would not reach enlightenment himself until all beings had reached nirvana. Although Avalokiteshvara tried for many years to help all living things, he saw no decrease in their suffering within samsara, the wheel of existence, and he gave up his promise in despair. Immediately his head split into a thousand pieces. Amitabha then consolidated them into ten heads and put his own head on the top. He told Avalokiteshvara not to renounce his promise and that there was still another way to accomplish his goal. The thousand hands with thousand eyes radiate around him, symbolizing that Avalokiteshvara is ever on the lookout for those in distress.

This description by Dr. Shailendra Kumar Verma, Ph.D. His doctorate thesis being on the "Emergence and Evolution of the Buddha Image (from its inception to 8th century A.D)."

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