MediumPigments, gilding on sized cloth
DimensionsWork : 4 1/8 x 3 5/8 x 1/2 in. (10.48 x 9.21 x 1.27 cm)
Credit LineGift of David Kamansky and Gerald Wheaton
As described in an early sutra, the Eleven-Faced (Ekadashamukha) manifestation of Avalokiteshvara has multiple heads and arms so that he can better provide aid to people in need. His eleven faces appear on five heads that rise upward in a vertical stack. There are three benevolent faces on each of the first three heads; the fourth head has a wrathful face; while the fifth head at the top shows the peaceful face of Amitabha Buddha. The arms on Eleven-Faced Avalokiteshvara can range in number from eight to more than one thousand. The form depicted here has eight arms, two of which are positioned in front of his body with the hands held in a gesture of veneration. The remaining six arms fan outward from the sides of his body. The hands of the top two right arms hold a prayer rosary and a dharma wheel emblem, while the lowest right hand is held palm outward in a gesture of charity or wish-granting. The hands of the three left arms hold a lotus blossom, a bow and arrow and a jar of ambrosia.