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Bodhisattva Manjushri Seated on a Lion

Mid-11th century

Bihar or Bengal, India

Gilt copper alloy with inlays of silver and copper

H. 5 1/2 x W. 3 1/2 x D. 2 in. (14 x 8.89 x 5.08 cm)

Asia Society, New York: Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection, 1979.35

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Manjushri is the Bodhisattva of Wisdom, a deity who symbolizes the transcendent wisdom and knowledge that are required to attain enlightenment. He can be recognized by his lion mount and by the small book, a symbol of his wisdom, which rests on the lotus above his left shoulder. The lotus next to his right shoulder, now broken off, once supported Manjushri's flaming sword of knowledge. With this weapon, Manjushri fights the ignorance that prevents a devotee from reaching enlightenment. The small size of this image suggests that it was a personal object of devotion. Cast in bronze by the lost wax process and gilded, representing Manjusri. He is seated in "lalitasana" (position of ease and comfort) with left leg pendant, the foot resting on a flower, and the other leg bent at the knee and supported on a low platform which sits on the back of a crouching lion, whose head is turned toward him. At his other side a long-stemmed lotus twins around the arm. Hands are held before him with index fingers and thumbs touching. The god is semi-nude, the upper torso decorated with necklaces and the thread of life, while the waist is swathed in a girdle from which descends a thin, clinging waistcloth. Eyebrows and mouth are defined and details of jewelry, garment, hair, the lion's claws, etc. are carefully worked. Eyes, headband and portions of the necklaces are in silver and copper.