Detail View: The AMICA Library: Head of Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara

AMICA Library Year: 
Object Type: 
Creator Nationality: 
Asian; Southeast Asian; Indonesian
Creator Name-CRT: 
Head of Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara
Full view
Creation Date: 
9th century
Creation Start Date: 
Creation End Date: 
Materials and Techniques: 
Volcanic stone
Creation Place: 
Indonesia, Central Java
H. 21 1/4 in. (54 cm)
AMICA Contributor: 
Asia Society
Owner Location: 
New York, New York, USA
ID Number: 
Credit Line: 
Asia Society: The Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection
Several large temple mountain complexes were constructed in Central Java during the rule of the Shailendra dynasty and dedicated to Buddhism. The 9th-century temple mountain Borobudur, the most famous of these complexes, is renowned for the beauty and majesty of its over 500 seated sculptures of the Buddha. Many of these Buddhas have lost their heads, thus it has been common to assign a provenance of Borobudur to works that are close in style to the sculpture at this famous monument.

This head of the Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara was once optimistically attributed to Borobudur. Avalokiteshvara is identified by the small image of a seated Amitabha Buddha in his headdress. His hair is styled into an elaborate coiffure and he wears a diadem decorated with five plaques. The size of this head indicates that it came from a large sculpture. Because of its size, it has also been suggested that it comes from Chandi Plaosan, a 9th-century temple mountain noted for its monumental sculptures. However, this is speculative, and it is more accurate to consider this head simply as an example of sculpture from Central Java rather than as a fragment from any particular monument.

Related Document Description: 
Asia Society. Handbook of the Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection. New York: Asia Society, [1981], p. 41.
Related Image Identifier Link: