Bodhisattva Manjushri, etwa 17. bis 18. Jahrhuntert

About the object

Manjushri is seated in the lotus position on a decorated pedestal. Manjushri is a Transcendental Bodhisattva of Mahayana, one of the main currents of Buddhism, which developed between 100 BCE and 100 CE. Bodhisattvas strive for enlightenment for the benefit of all sentient beings. On this path to enlightenment, Transcendental Bodhisattvas are already very advanced. This sculpture comes from the ancient collection of the Museum. Its precise provenance is unclear.
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Manjushri is the oldest and, after Avalokiteshvara, the most important Transcendental Bodhisattva of Mahayana literature and a figure frequently depicted in Buddhist art. He is the Bodhisattva of supernatural wisdom and recognises the true nature of reality. Manjushri is usually depicted on a low lotus pedestal (here double lotus with beaded edges) with his legs crossed in the lotus position. His half-naked, narrow body is richly decorated, the eye of the Buddha (wisdom) between the eyebrows. With the flaming sword - a symbol of justice and creativity - in his "male" right hand he cuts through the darkness of ignorance and brings light. The "female" left hand forms a mudra, which means teaching and elucidation. The thumb and a fingertip are held adjacent to the heart and indicate refuge. The five-pointed crown indicates a superiority to the laws of nature. The Bodhisattva holds a lotus stem loosely in his left hand. The lotus is a Buddhist symbol of purity because it is rooted in mud, but its leaves and flowers are self-cleaning and immaculate (lotus effect). The plant winds up his arm and its shoots stretch towards Manjushri's ear. This symbolises the transmission of the Buddha's teaching, which attracts students like bees to the clear scent of the spoken or 'whispered' teaching. One blossom is still closed. Above the other one, which is open, the Book of the Perfection of (Transcendent) Wisdom (Prajñāpāramitā sūtra) appears next to his shoulder in the form of a block book and as a sign of the Bodhisattva's omniscience. Author: Nina Fetscherin, Translation: Timothy Connell

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