Avalokiteśvara in Tibetan Buddhist art of the Later spread (Tib. phyi dar) of the Dharma. Image classification proposal ( part 2)

Joanna Grela


According to traditional Buddhist narratives and popular beliefs, Tibetans are a people chosen by Avalokiteśvara. Therefore, his worship and multitude, as well as diversity of his images, are quite common both in temples and public areas. Unlike the widespread analyses where the Bodhisattva has been treated as a peaceful tutelary deity, and classifications of its images have been based on morphological features (i.e. the number of hands, heads, etc.) or artistic styles and techniques, this paper proposes another approach by grounding images in Tantric Buddhism models used locally. These models consist in differentiating multiple and sometimes overlapping schemes of body-speech-mind aspects and outer, inner and secret forms of the Three Jewels or the Three Refuges, popular in Tantric Buddhism. Applying them makes it possible to cover a much broader iconographic material. The second part of this paper focuses on images of Avalokiteśvara as a meditational deity and a Dharma protector, which corresponds to the last two out of the three inner aspects of the Three Jewels. Using the method developed by Erwin Panofsky and the analysis of primary Tibetan text are partly used as convenient tools for the description and exegesis of images.

Słowa kluczowe: Avalokiteśvara images, Erwin Panfosky, Six-Armed Mahakala, Three Jewels, Three Roots

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