This supremely beautiful black painting of the Bodhisattva of compassion is perhaps one of the finest black thangkas. The painting portrays this incarnation of inconceivable mercy in his most powerful forms, with eleven faces, one thousand eyes, and one thousand arms. The thousand compassionate arms extend his helping hands toward all beings. Each hand has an eye to see their sufferings in innumerable worlds. Ten of his faces indicate his attainment of ten Bodhisattva stages, with the eleventh, the face of Amitabha Buddha, indicating his being the incarnation of the universal compassion of all Buddhas. The ten faces may also stand for his looking after beings throughout the ten directions of face, the eleventh face representing the all-encompassing Buddha wisdom. Texts relate that three of the heads are Bodhisattva heads, three are fierce, three are peaceful, one is a wrathful head of Mahakala, and the final one is Avalokiteshvara's spiritual father, Amitabha Buddha.
Avalokiteshvara stands frontally on a floral disk on lotus flower on mountainous landscape. The array of arms resembles a large halo encircling the gentle body against the aureole. The eight main arms hold the major symbols and perform the main gestures Bodhisattva. His right hands hold a rosary and a wheel of the teachings, and make the boon-granting gesture. His left hands hold a lotus, a bow and arrow, and a vase of elixir. In front of his heart his two hands are held in the prayer gesture, holding the wish-fulfilling gem. His remaining 992 arms are in boon-granting gesture.
Avalokiteshvara is adorned with crown, earrings, necklaces, armlets, bracelets, and anklets; floral flowing scarf and dhoti with multicolored leggings. The skin of antelope is over his left shoulder and tied diagonally like a scarf, referring to his ascetic experience.
At the top of the picture sits Amitabha Buddha in clouds with rainbow light, while both the upper corners are filled with stylized clouds. At the bottom, in the centre, is a lake over which are auspicious offerings. Each side of the Bodhisattva's aureole and foreground are filled with finely drawn high peaks, covered with snow, lakes, trees, rock formations, waterfall, auspicious offerings and natural vegetation. The bottom left and right corners depict pairs of swan and antelope, respectively.
This description is by Dr. Shailendra K. Verma, whose Doctorate thesis is on "Emergence and Evolution of the Buddha Image (From its inception to 8th century A.D.)".