In this work the bodhisattva Avalokitesvara is represented in the guise of his female avatarQuan Am (Guanyin), a form extremely popular in neighboring China, and the object of particular devotion in the north of Vietnam where the figure comes from. The bodhisattva is recognizable by her costume, a full robe knotted at the waist, a […]
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This extremely well preserved work represents the god Vishnu astride his traditional mount,Garuda. The four-armed deity is holding his usual attributes, only two of which -the conch and the discus- survive today. The head is crowned with an octagonal mitre and a thick moustache lines the face. The earlobes are pierced, which allowed precious ornamentation […]
This sculpture represents Shiva, recognizable by the third eye on his forehead, the crescent moon fastened to his ascetic’s chignon headdress, the snake-shaped Brahmanic cord on his chest, and the skull goblet held in one of his hands. Seated on a lotus-shaped plinth with his back propped against an ogival stele, the god is inscribed […]
This drum is composed of a resonant top resting on a flared torus, a cylindrical case, and asawn-off cone base; four double handles link the upper part to the central section. The whole instrument has a plane decoration of alternating geometrical motifs and stylized figurative images. The top is embellished with a central star around […]
This refined statuette-probably representing Manjusri, the “bodhisattva of wisdom”-adopts an elegantly swaying, triple flexion (tribhanga) pose highlighting the shape of the waist and thighs. With his right hand, the deity is making the symbolic gesture of reasoning (vitakamudra) with which he is associated, while his left hand holds the stem of a flower, nowadays missing. […]
This Vajrapani (Sanskrit: “Thunderbolt-bearer”) bodhisattva, represented frontally in a standing position, is an extremely popular figure in Tantric Buddhism. His “thunderbolt-diamond” (vajra) symbol, which he is holding in his right hand, is a central feature in most Lamaist rituals. The proportions of the body, elegantly resting on the right leg, are unrealistic, with an exaggeratedly […]
These two figures represent the deity Hevajra in his Kapaladhara manifestation -with eight ferocious heads, sixteen arms and four legs- embracing his female consort Nairatmya. With his forelegs, the god is trampling on two figures of Mara, a Hindu demon, while his hind legs execute a dance step in front of two other Maras seated […]
This statuette represents Virupaksa, Guardian of the West, one of the four kings who stood guard over the four cardinal points of the universe. These guardian-kings, or lokapala, are always portrayed in armour. The attributes of this figure are a reliquary stupa -previously carried by Vaisrana, Guardian of the North- and a snake. Despite the […]
This face, framed by a radial headdress, exudes an expressive strength reinforced by the ragged, jigsaw treatment of the eyebrows, moustache and beard in a typically early 17th century fashion. The third eye allows the figure of Bhairava to be identified as the fierce manifestation of Shiva, an effigy of whom appears on top of […]
This thang-ka depicts the supreme Buddha, or Vajrasattva-regarded as the paramount deity by the monks of the dKa’-gdams-pa order-in his traditional representation as a blue-skinned figure. He is holding the two principal ritual objects of the Lamaist liturgy: the “thunderbolt-diamond” (vajra) and the bell. The execution of the robes and jewelry, geometric faces and bodies, […]
This stela represents the god Mahakala, the personification of an Siva converted to Buddhism. A black-skinned deity, he is identifiable by his third eye, his diadem decorated with skulls, and, on the top of his head, the figure of the Jina Aksobhya, chief of his lineage. His waist is girded with a tiger skin and […]
This representation of the goddess Usnisavijaya, flanked by two assistant bodhisattvas carrying flywhisks, has three heads and eight hands holding her attributes. Her right-hand head is gilded; her left-hand one is blue and has a fierce expression; her central head, like her body, is white. Throughout the Himalayan and Chinese world, this deity appeared inside […]
The six-armed god Vajramrita is portrayed seated in the centre of the composition embracing the goddess Svabhaprajna. Bright green is used to convey the “priyangu flower color” of his skin. The couple is surrounded by eight other goddesses within the petals of a centrally placed lotus. The overall layout of the composition is constructed around […]
The broad band, upon which stand five skulls each adorned with a finial, is balanced on either side by two diametrically opposed fine plaits made from small bone pearls. The crown provides the base for a finely detailed floral decoration, and gold plated motifs in the round highlighted by blue and red semi-precious stones. The […]
This figure of a fierce, winged deity is holding a vajra “thunderbolt-diamond” in his right hand and a scorpion in his left. The lower half of his body consists of the blade of a phur-bu, or kila “ritual dagger”, transfixing the bottom of a linga (effigy) on a triangular sacrificial area. The identification of the […]
The top of this conical-shaped piece is embellished with a half-sized thunderbolt-diamond (vajra). Fragments of semi-precious stones have survived from the original decoration and are still visible. Around the piece, like a mandala, are finials depicting either figures of jina, or the “victorious” Buddha, in permanent meditation and each performing his own specific canonical gesture […]
This head of a bodhisattva, or “compassionate being”, bears the stamp of great nobility. It has a broad forehead, regular features, slender nose, determined chin, and the loose hair is knotted at the base of the skull. The workmanship is expressive and deliberately realistic. The facial features and the intensely refined treatment of the delicately […]
This scene depicts the “Great Departure” of Siddhartha Gautama, the future Buddha, riding away from the paternal palace and his princely condition. A predestined being, he appears here surrounded by a halo, and accompanied by numerous guards, mithuna loving couples, and devata, come to pay homage. The episode is carved in a frieze and, in […]
Originally consisting of a relatively low dome, stupas in Gandhâra and Afghanistan evolved towards higher edifices. This stupa, from the Hadda site, comprises a base which supports four successive square and cylindrical stories. The main sections of stupas were being increasingly covered with narrative images and reliefs, in this instance a series of Buddhas punctuated […]
This face, with its straight nose, clearly carved eyes, and wavy moustache is gently oval-shaped in North West Indian style, displaying the influence of Hellenistic traditions under the great Kushan rulers. Despite the urna on the forehead, the Indian-style bejewelled ears feature a lion motif, indicating that the face is that of a secular figure. […]
This sculpture, a three-quarter bust with gently inclined head portrays a young man holding a lapful of flowers. His elegantly profiled oval face with its high brow and full cheeks is framed by flowing, curly locks of hair and displays northwestern Indian influences. Representing a deva , or a spirit, it provides a perfect illustration […]
This frontal high relief depicts an episode from the “Great Miracle of Sravasti”: the historical Buddha Shakyâmuni gives a display of his power by performing miracles before a gathering of heretical masters. Here he is represented levitating while water pours from his feet and flames flare up from his shoulders. In the palm of his […]
This bas relief shows an enthroned bodhisattva framed by two columns with Corinthian inspired capitals. It depicts the episode where Maitreya is enthroned in the Tushita Heaven, paradise of the thirty-three gods, before coming down to earth as the future Buddha. The resemblance to an Indian prince, the fabrics, necklaces and earrings all indicate a […]
In this scene, the Buddha of the past, Dipankara, is shown preaching to the young brahma-carin (Brahmanic student), the future Shakyâmuni. The tableau is presented in the style of a frieze; visually, it displays closer affinities with the art of Imperial Rome than that of Buddhist India. Respecting the three classical unities of time, place […]
This bodhisattva, portrayed standing and making the symbolic gesture of absence of fear, displays all the characteristics of Gandhara art, commonly known as “Greco-Buddhist” art. Indeed, Gandharan sculptors drew inspiration from the Hellenistic canon for these early representations of the Buddha; for instance, the clinging drape of the traditional dhoti worn by the figure here. […]
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