Early Malla period, 13th century
Gilt copper alloy with inlays of semiprecious stones
H. 18 3/4 in. (47.6 cm); 1979.49



Artist Comments

Pico Iyer
It's easy to believe that we construct our gods in the image of the beings we most want to have around us; gods, in our limited apprehensions, need to be translated into figures we can recognize and trust. In this Bodhisattva I see attentiveness and relaxation in a state of perfect poise; the big toe could not be more human, even as the tender downturned face, with just a trace of sadness beneath its solicitude, could not be more alert. The gender of the figure hardly seems to matter; whether brother or mother or beloved, (s)he brings us something of the graces of all three. One hand says to me, "Be calm" (or "Stop your thinking and your talking, put away all agitation"); the other, so loosely turned towards the ground, says, "Sit here. Whatever happens, you need not get stirred up: I'm here. You're here. Be at peace."