About the Artwork

Avalokiteshvara, the 'Beholding Lord', is the Bodhisattva of Compassion and the patron deity of Tibet, who appears here in this painting by Mangal Lama in his eleven-faced and thousand-armed form.

According to legend Avalokiteshvara once vowed that he would first free all beings from suffering before attaining liberation himself, so he set about this task with great effort. But when he saw how few he had so far saved compared to how many still actually remained, his sudden despair caused his head and body to explode into countless pieces. Seeing his plight, Amitabha Buddha then came swiftly to his aid, and from the shattered fragments reconstructed his body into a far more efficient form, with eleven heads and a thousand arms. In this powerful form he was now able to gaze compassionately over all beings throughout the ten directions of space, and be able to reach out to help them with his thousand 'all-seeing' hands.

Avalokiteshvara is white in color and stands upon a white moon disc and a multicolored lotus in an upright posture where he can 'glide like a swan'. His beautiful body is adorned with the five divine silks and the eight jeweled ornaments of a sambhogakaya deity, and his characteristic antelope skin is draped across his left shoulder. He has eleven heads or faces, eight principal hands, and nine hundred and ninety two secondary or 'branch' hands, which radiate outwards in six symmetrical and fan-like semi-circles. Each of his hands has an outward-gazing eye in its palm, with its five fingers representing the five 'method' perfections of generosity, morality, patience, perseverance and concentration, and the eye itself the sixth perfection of 'wisdom'. Of his eight principal hands: the first pair are palms-folded in front of his heart; his second pair of right and left hands hold a crystal rosary and a blue utpala lotus; his third pair hold a golden wheel and a bow and arrow, and his fourth pair make the varada-mudra of generosity and hold a golden water flask.

He abides within a beautiful and natural landscape of clouds, mountains, water, trees and rocks, with the longevity symbols of a pair of deer and cranes appearing in the lower corners.

© text by Robert Beer

Popular Images

About Our Prints


PEM Custom Prints offers exclusive custom reproductions of artworks in the collections of the Peabody Essex Museum. Hand-made in the USA using gallery-quality materials, we create prints as true to the original work as possible, using strict color management protocols and state-of-the-art printing technology.


Many of the works offered through this store are exclusive and not available anywhere else. We are continually adding new artworks to our offering, so be sure to check back regularly as you build your own gallery. A variety of molding styles means our custom framed prints can match any type of decor.

Member Discounts

PEM Members receive their 10% discount for all PEM Custom Prints purchases. Simply enter your valid member number into the form at checkout and the discount will be applied to the items in your cart. Member discounts cannot be combined with other offers.