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尼泊爾 馬拉王朝早期 十三世紀 銅鎏金般若佛母像
Prajnaparamita is the living embodiment of the Prajnaparamita-sutra, a manuscript dated to the 1st century BCE that serves as a foundational text for Mahayana and Vajrayana principles. In essence, it expounds on the transcendental knowledge of emptiness, referring to the illusionary nature of the material world, as well as the realm of infinite space from which all things originate from and return to following their dissolution. Here, the mother of all Buddhas and goddess of supreme wisdom is portrayed in a four-armed form that was uniquely celebrated among the Newari Buddhist communities. In her principal pair of hands, she interlocks her fingers in the gesture of expounding on the Dharma, while her secondary left hand holds the very same manuscript she emanates from.
Nepalese images from the early Malla period are often characterized by sensitive modelling, graceful movement, and gentle features. These very same qualities are fully portrayed in this gilt bronze, while also tracing stylistic connections to northeast India by her sweet expression and the bangles worn around her wrists, which are on female figures and goddesses from the Pala period (see a Pala bronze stupa depicting Prajnaparamita with these characteristics in the Cleveland Museum of Art, 1982.132). The axe-shaped ribbon ends appearing above her ears which fasten her crown (or samkhapatras), help to date this figure to the 13th-century, as earlier models do not feature such prominent ribbon ties while those dated to the 14th-century either differ slightly in proportion or expand upon this decoration to include elaborate, flaring tassels (Vajracharya, Nepalese Seasons, 2016, pp. 25, 132 & 138). This distinct feature of Nepalese bronzes can also be seen on a figure of Brahmani in the Rietberg Museum, published in, On the Path to Enlightenment, 1995, p. 159, no. 104, as well as several other goddesses published in von Schroeder, Indo-Tibetan Bronzes, 1981, pp. 353 & 358, nos. 92C-F. Lastly, see two other examples of the same goddess, one published in Van Alphen et al., Cast for Eternity, 2005, p. 118, no. 33, and the other in the Tibet Museum, Gruyères (ABS 058).
Sundaram Gallery, South Extension, New Delhi, July 1969
Private Collection, California