A finely modelled gilded bronze fragment displaying seventeen bejewelled, outstretched arms, spread around like sun’s rays. Such arms would have been part of a bigger figural composition, depicting the Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara, in manifestation of Avalokitesvara Sahasrabhuja Ekadasamukha, the All Seeing, All Sided Lord with One Thousand Hands and Eleven Faces, who looks in every direction to save all creatures. Each arm is crafted in a naturalistic manner, with much attention given towards the anatomy of each finger.
In Buddhist religion, the Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara vowed to never rest until he had freed all sentient beings from samsara, helping them to reach enlightenment. He soon realised that still many unhappy beings were yet to be saved. Avalokitesvara became so frustrated and agitated about this unbearable thought that his head split in many thousands of pieces. Buddha Amitabha came to his aid, gifting the Bodhisattva with eleven heads. Avalokitesvara tried once again to reach out to all those who needed help and assistance. However, he found that his two only arms shattered into pieces. Amitabha Buddha came to his aid again, appointing him a thousand arms with which to aid the many. Tibetan Buddhist statuettes depicting the Buddha or Bodhisattvas would have been modelled in gilded bronze or brass, and placed in shrines and temples, as a way to accrue the merit needed for good karma in Buddhist religion.
Date: Circa 19th century AD