The image of Avalokiteshvara depicted with a thousand arms and eleven heads has the following meanings: the head on top portrays the Buddha Amitabha, symbolizing the Dharmakaya (“truth body” or “reality body”) nature of Avalokiteshvara. The second head from the top represents Vajrapani, the wrathful aspect of Avalokiteshvara, who helps practitioners in fighting against negative forces and overcoming obstacles on their path. There are three rows of three faces which are the colours white, green and red, representing the three principle aspects of Buddhahood.
The thousand arms with one eye in each of the palms exhibit Avalokiteshvara’s pervasiveness and the awakened mind, the enlightened thought wishing to benefit all sentient beings. The two central hands of the eight main hands are held in a cupped gesture of homage, and another hand is in an open-palm gesture symbolizing generosity. The other main hands hold 5 objects: a bow and arrow (aiming at the heart of all beings), lotus (enlightenment), vase containing the nectar of immortality, rosary and eight-spoked wheel (Buddha’s teaching). The aura around the painting represents his one thousand hands and symbolizes his inexhaustible compassion. In each hand, the eye (wisdom) in the centre of the palm (skills) symbolizes the union of wisdoms and skills.
One prominent Buddhist story tells how Avalokiteshvara vowed never to rest until he had freed all sentient beings from suffering. After struggling to comprehend the needs of so many, his head splits into eleven pieces – and Amitabha Buddha gave him eleven heads to enable him to attend to the cries of more suffering beings. Similarly, when Avalokiteshvara found his two arms shattering into pieces, again Amitabha Buddha came to his rescue and conferred one thousand arms and eyes to help him to go ahead with his effort.
Size: 17.5cm x 22.5cm