Aug 17, 2011

Bodhisattva of Compassion (Avalokiteshvara)

Bodhisattva of Compassion (Avalokiteshvara)


1647–48 or 1658


Overall: 29.2 cm (11 1/2 in.)

Sundry Purchase Fund 1968.280



Chöying Dorjé was one of the most influential monastic leaders in the history of Tibetan Buddhism. Known as the Tenth Karmapa, he was the head of the Karma Kagyu order of monks. His biographies state that from a young age he had a talent and passion for carving and painting images of bodhisattvas and other enlightened beings. Several of his original works survive, including this exceptionally rare ivory carving of Avalokiteshvara holding a lotus. Stylistically it is related to images from southwestern China, where he stayed in exile from 1647 to 1648 in the wake of Mongol invasions that destroyed many Kagyu monasteries in Tibet. While there he was exposed to Chinese art, which was favored by his patrons. The face has the distinctive elongation unique to Dorjé's personal style. This sculpture could have been made during his time of exile or a decade later after his return to Tibet.

See also
Chinese Art
Type of artwork: 
Credit line: 
Sundry Purchase Fund

Contact us

The information about this object, including provenance, may not be currently accurate. If you notice a mistake or have additional information about this object, please email

To request more information about this object, study images, or bibliography, contact the Ingalls Library Reference Desk.

All images and data available through Open Access can be downloaded for free. For images not available through Open Access, a detail image, or any image with a color bar, request a digital file from Image Services.