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Buddhist art
Triad of Vairocana, Four-armed Lokeśvara, and Prajñāpāramitā
Late 12th-early 13th century
Triad of Vairocana, Four-armed Lokeśvara, and Prajñāpāramitā 
Gilt-bronze Height: 22 cm

  This triad is in a style typical of the Khmer Empire (802–1431). The Buddha in the middle performs the gesture of meditation and is seated on the coils of a seven-headed serpent whose hoods form a canopy. The two attendants are Four-armed Lokeśvara and Prajñāpāramitā.

  This iconography used to be attributed to the story of the Buddha and Mucalinda the serpent king, as related in Theravāda Buddhist texts such as the Abhiniṣkramaṇa Sūtra. However, recent studies suggest that the central seated figure is the Vairocana Buddha, venerated in the esoteric tradition, and that the iconography may relate to the spread of the Sarvatathāgatatattvasaṃgraha tantra in Khmer from the 10th century on. The fact that the two attendant figures are also Esoteric Buddhist deities lends support to this theory.

 

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