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Clay Votive Plaque (Tsa-Tsa) of Shadaksari Avalokiteshvara
Nepal or Tibet
circa 15th century

height: 6.8cm, width: 5.9cm, thickness: 2.3cm

This devotional votive plaque or tsa-tsa was made by pressing clay into a metal reverse-mould after which it was fired. It shows the four-armed Tantric form of
Avalokiteshvara known as Shadaksari.

A possibly related
tsa-tsa is illustrated in Proser (2010, p. 165) which is attributed to the 14th century and to Mustang in Nepal.

Such tablets were acquired by Buddhist devotees and pilgrims as acts of merit, often at religious sites, as mementos and talismanic or protective keepsakes.  
The plaques often were made in one location and  carried by pilgrims to be left at a site in another location, perhaps in a cave or at an important shrine.
According to Proser (2010, p.
167), the practice of spreading tsa-tsa offerings throughout the landscape can be likened to sowing seeds of potential spiritual
merit, somewhat akin to laying out 'fields of Buddhas' throughout the world.

The example here has obvious age and patina and is in a fine, stable condition.

References:
Proser, A., (ed.), Pilgrimage and Buddhist Art, Asia Society Museum/Yale University Press, 2010.

Provenance:
Collection of Stephen Masty (1954-2015); see here for more information on Masty.

Inventory no.: 4436

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