This is an image of the compassionate and merciful bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara. Bodhisattvas are enlightened beings who are destined to become buddhas but postpone that final state in order to help humanity. The name Avalokiteshvara means “Lord who looks down with compassion.” Avalokiteshvara is shown here sitting on a lion throne and arrayed in jewels like a prince. Above his head is a parasol, an ancient symbol of royal status. Beside his head are lotus-borne stupas, topped with sun and crescent moons. Avalokiteshvara’s right hand is in the gesture of gift granting, and in his left hand he holds a long-stemmed lotus. In his elaborate hairdress is an image of the Buddha Amitabha. (Amitabha presides over the western Pure Land, a kind of Buddhist paradise. The worship of Amitabha became very popular in East Asian Buddhism).