Eleven-Faced Avalokiteshvara

Mongolian (Mongolian)
Early 20th century
Pigments and gold on sized cloth
Work : 11 3/4 x 8 1/4 in. (29.85 x 20.96 cm)
Mat : 20 x 16 in. (50.8 x 40.64 cm)
Credit Line
Hope College Collection
Object Number


An apocryphal Tibetan text, the Mani Kabum, explains that the eleven-faced form of Avalokiteshvara came into existence after the bodhisattva momentarily succumbed to selfish thoughts about his own impending enlightenment, causing his body and head to shatter into hundreds of pieces. Amitabha Buddha reconstructed Avalokiteshvara into this form, adding extra arms, heads and faces so that he can better provide help to people in need. The three figures depicted below Avalokiteshvara in this painting are the bodhisattvas Vajrapani, White Tara and Green Tara. The three figures above Avalokiteshvara are the 14th-century Tibetan monk Tsongkhapa and his two principal disciples, Gyaltsab Je and Khedrup Je. The somewhat crude quality of this painting suggests that it was made in a provincial workshop.

Object Type