Khmer Koh Ker Sandstone Lokeshvara, 10th Century
This is a 10th century Khmer sculpture of Avalokiteshvara from the Koh Ker period; in Cambodia he is called Lokeshvara. It is sandstone and is approximately 35 inches tall.
Behind Lokeshvara’s diadem, his hair is drawn into a high chignon encased in a stiff, closely woven covering or mukuta, which is one of the distinctive features of the Bodhisattvas as depicted in Southeast Asia. Against the chignon, above the crown, is seated his Dhyani-Buddha, Amitabha.
Avalokiteshvara in Sanskrit means "the Lord who oversees, in Cambodia he was referred to as Lokeshvara or “Lord of the World”. According to Mahayana doctrine, Avalokiteshvara is the bodhisattva who has made a great vow to listen to the prayers of all sentient beings in times of difficulty, and to postpone his own Buddhahood until he had assisted every being on Earth in achieving nirvana.
He is referred to as Kannon in Japan, Guanyin in China, Quan-am in Vietnam and Chenrezig in Tibet. The Dalai Lama is considered an incarnation of Avalokiteshvara by Tibetan Buddhists. Among the Bodhisattvas, it is Avalokiteshvara who has the largest number of forms and is perhaps the most venerated and most popular Buddhist deity. His sex, originally masculine, is sometimes considered feminine in China and Japan, although this is not supported by canonical text. This may be because men are often tempted to attribute a feminine quality to all the deities who appear to them to be endowed with essentially “feminine” virtues such as compassion, gentleness, and goodness of heart or purity.