9 SANDSTONE AVALOKITESVARA


Catalogue no. 9 SANDSTONE AVALOKITESVARA

SOUTHERN THAILAND, POSSIBLY FROM CHAIYA DISTRICT

SRIVIJAYA KINGDOM

8TH – 9TH CENTURY

H. 99 CMS, 39 INS

An unusual grey limestone figure of a four-armed Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara, standing on a pedestal and holding (clockwise from top left) a rosary, a lotus, an unidentified object (probably a book) and a flask, wearing extensive jewellery and with a seated Amitabha Buddha in the diadem, embellished with extensive ancient additions of mother of pearl inlay in the eyes, urna and other recesses.

Based on the somewhat scanty evidence available to historians the Srivijaya kingdom is believed to have been centred on Palembang, Sumatra and flourished from the late 7th century to the early 13th century. The state succeeded Funan as the controller of the lucrative maritime trade through the Malacca Straits and was also an important centre for Mahayana Buddhist learning. There were also Hindu sanctuaries as well. At its height, its rule is said to have extended over Sumatra, Java, western Borneo (Kalimantan), the Malay Peninsula and southern Thailand.

The National Museum, Bangkok has several closely related Avalokitesvara figures in Srivijaya style – see, for example, plates 30 and 32 in Piriya Krairiksh, Art in Peninsular Thailand Prior to the Fourteeth Century AD, Bangkok: Fine Arts Department, 1980.

Provenance: Private collection, UK.