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South Asian, Tibet

Standing 11-headed Chenrezig (Avalokiteśvara-ekadaśamukha)

(Bodhisattva of Compassion), 18th Century

Mixed alloys, silver, bronze, turquoise, pigment

Gift of the Rubin-Ladd Foundation

Collection of La Salle University Art Museum, 14-O-371

This image of Avalokiteśvara (or Chenrezig, as he is known in the Tibetan tradition) not only represents the great Bodhisattva of Compassion but aesthetically conveys an important Buddhist concept that might otherwise be foreign or challenging for students to grasp. It illustrates what it means to be a bodhisattva in Mahāyānatraditions: one who develops the great generosity, discipline, patience, effort, concentration and wisdom necessary to reach enlightenment yet remains in the realms of existence out of compassion for the suffering of all beings.

According to one version of the story, Chenrezig (the great all-seeing one) is said to have sprouted multiple heads and arms in order to constantly perceive the cries of all who call out in need and reach out to respond to them, providing swift relief of their suffering.

While one who is considered a great bodhisattva, such as His Holiness the Dalai Lama, may not look any different from an ordinary person, this artwork allows students to grasp how Tibetans understand his extraordinary capacity to benefit beings through his compassion and wisdom.

Julie Regan, Ph.D.

Assistant Professor, Department of Religion and Theology

Effective Expression

  • 9. Creative and Artistic Expression

Active Responsibility

  • 11. Cultural and Global Awareness and Sensitivity

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Collection of La Salle University Art Museum;