Manjuvajra

12th/13th century, Pala Dynasty
Eastern India
Copper alloy
Height: 11 cm - 4 ⅜ in


Manjuvajra, the Esoteric form of Manjusri,sits in the yogic posture atop a high double-lotus throne. His primary arms are crossed in frontof his chest in vajrahumkara, agesture with which he is often seen embracing his Prajna, and the remainingfour extend gracefully on either side of his svelte torso. Finely cast attributes including asword, bow, arrow, and blue lotus confirm the bodhisattva's identity. Although engaged in meditation, each ofhis three faces bears a warm countenance, the eyes slightly downcast, and themouths set in broad smiles. Crowning Manjuvajra's head, an intricate, tall topknot stands behind afoliate tiara. He is beautifullyadorned with an array of jewelry, and covered by a short dhoti, the folds of which are apparent between his legs.

Although less commonly portrayed than othertantric deities, Manjuvajra was amongthe subjects favored during the latter part of the Pala Dynasty. Artists of the period were required tobe fluent in the vast number of divinities included in Mahayana Buddhism, andthus were constantly challenged by a wide variety of subject-matter. Not only did their sculptures exhibitthe appropriate iconography, but also they were cast to portray the essence ofeach subject's divine persona. Ingeneral, the bronzes were smaller, stood alone on a beaded lotus base withoutan attached prabha or rectangularpedestal beneath, and were more finely detailed, often with silver inlay; allevidenced by the present sculpture.[1]

Notes:

[1] See von Schroeder (1981), p. 247.