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Avalokiteshvara, Bodhisattva of Compassion
Deity who helps beings reach enlightenment so they can escape the cycle of time

Artist/maker unknown, Indian

Made in Sarnath, Uttar Pradesh, India, Asia

c. Third quarter of 5th century


48 1/2 × 15 1/2 × 7 inches (123.2 × 39.4 × 17.8 cm) Weight: 290.5 lb. (131.77 kg)

Curatorial Department:
South Asian Art

* Gallery 231, Asian Art, second floor (Dutt Gallery)

Accession Number:

Credit Line:
Stella Kramrisch Collection, 1994

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Additional information:
  • PublicationPhiladelphia Museum of Art: Handbook of the Collections

    Among the great contributions of Buddhism to the universal ideal of compassion is the bodhisattva, one who delays an already attained salvation until all other beings are themselves released from the Wheel of Life. This beautiful sandstone bodhisattva is a sculptural embodiment of the conception of compassion, produced at the height of the Gupta dynasty in the traditional Buddhist heartland of North India. It represents Avalokiteshvara, a bodhisattva closely associated with the Amitabha, the Buddha of the Western Paradise, who is represented in the headdress. The lower legs and arms of the figure are missing, but the right arm and hand probably hung down, lightly holding a falling piece of drapery, while the left hand held the stem of the lotus still remaining on the damaged halo. The downcast eyes, "bee-stung" lower lip, bow curves of the upper lip, and smooth, clinging drapery of the elegant and slender body are all contributions of the Sarnath school to what became classic Buddha and bodhisattva types, models that had vast influence in the Buddhist art of East Asia. Sherman E. Lee, from Philadelphia Museum of Art: Handbook of the Collections (1995), p. 49.

* Works in the collection are moved off view for many different reasons. Although gallery locations on the website are updated regularly, there is no guarantee that this object will be on display on the day of your visit.