Areas of Bihar and Bengal in northeastern India came under the rule of the Pala and Sena dynasties from the 8thto 12th centuries. Pala statues are distinguished by their bulk, thick and elongated physiques, solemn facial expressions, massive halos and lotus thrones and formalised, elaborately inlaid ornaments. Buddhism was eventually driven out from the Ganges by Muslim troops in the 12th century.
Figure of Padmapani
Bihar, Northeast India, Pala period, 11th–12th century
Copper and silver inlaid brass alloy, H. 14 cm
Cissy and Robert Tang Collection
Padmapani is presented as a princely figure seated in the Royal Ease pose (Rajalila asana). Further emphasising his role as a saviour gazing down upon the world, his palm is raised in the Gesture of Fearlessness (Abhaya mudra) as he casts a benevolent expression.
Artistic traditions from the Pala empire can be seen on its elongated eyes, thick lips, tall chignon and elaborate ornaments especially with the beaded edges on the base. However, the inscribed base plate is not commonly seen among other bronzes from the Pala empire. The traces of cold gilding preserved on the back of the neck implies that the figure’s face was painted with gold in Tibet, where such rituals of empowerment were commonly practised.