This rare woven panel utilises the intricate damask weave structure and shimmery quality of silk to portray the bodhisattva in great detail, resulting in a luminous texture which exemplifies the finesse of early Ming period religious art.
Shadakshari Lokeshvara is a variant of the bodhisattva of compassion, Avalokitesvara. As the lord of the six realms of existence (hell beings, hungry ghosts, animals, humans, demigods, and gods), his inner hands are held in anjalimudra, the gesture of adoration.
Compare the present panel to a silk damask hanging, also depicting Shadakshari Lokeshvara and dated to the early 15th century, in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum in New York, illustrated in Defining Yongle: Imperial Art in Early Fifteenth-Century China, New York, 2003, v. 61, no. 2. This hanging carries the Sanskrit inscription om mani padme hum, 'hail to the jewel in the lotus' (referring to the bodhisattva), and the Tibetan invocation to the goddess Mahashri. It is very likely that this panel originally had these inscriptions to the top and bottom of the bodhisattva, but are now lacking.