Atisha was one of the most famous Indian teachers. He was invited to teach by religious kings of Western Tibet. This sculpture depicts him wearing a hat of a scholar (pandita’s hat), his usual attribute. His robes do not appear to be that of an Indian monk - the collared vest is a standard part of Tibetan monks’ robes. Atisha’s posture has a barely noticeable relaxed lean to the right with his head slightly raised. The expression on his face, painted in golden pigment, is thoughtful, gazing forward, apt for a teacher giving a discourse, as indicated by his hands held in a teaching gesture (dharmachakra mudra). This example of Tibetan wooden sculpture was made with a combined method of solid wood carving and composite construction similar to its pair, the sculpture of Dromtonpa. Both have the same size and painted decoration and were probably part of a larger set that represented the teachers of the Gelug tradition.
H 12 3/4 x W 9 x D 5 1/2 in.