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Buddha with Two Bodhisattvas

Buddha with Two Bodhisattvas, 12th century

India: Kashmir or Ladakh, or Tibet, 1000-1099
12-1/4 x 9x 3 in. (31.1 x 22.9 x 7.6 cm)
The Norton Simon Foundation
© The Norton Simon Foundation

On view

This triad illustrates the reciprocity between the Buddha and bodhisattvas, the deified beings who help worshippers attain their goals. The Buddha figure stands in the center with two bodhisattvas flanking him. His posture is straight and frontal, while the other deities gracefully sway their hips, creating a dynamic and harmonious composition. Though each figure has its own lotus pedestal and is adorned with a separate halo, the larger halo unites all three within a single frame.

On the right is the bodhisattva of infinite compassion Avalokiteshvara, holding a lotus in his left hand. Vajrapani, one of the earliest protectors of Buddhism, stands to the left, identified by the thunderbolt he clasps against his chest. The Buddha figure is depicted with the teaching gesture (Dharmachakra mudra), representing the dissemination of his lessons to these two demigods and beyond. Together, the trio embodies the essence of compassion, wisdom and spiritual guidance, and offers a profound representation of the interconnectedness between the Buddha and bodhisattvas.

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