|Three terracotta panels, each moulded in relief with a Buddhist image. The details of two of the panels are highlighted in coloured pigments and gold leaf. The largest panel is pierced for suspension. The smallest plaque is backed in silk brocade.
Votive plaque (tsa tsa) depicting Mahakala
Votive plaque (tsa tsa) depicting Avalokitesvara
Votive plaque (tsa tsa) depicting the Buddhist panoply Tibet, 18th century
Tsa Tsas are small votive images made of clay that first appeared in the 5th century.1 The plaques, which were usually made in monasteries, were formed in moulds from fine clay, sometimes mixed with paper and/or sacred substances. They were frequently finished with polychrome pigments and gilding. The flat back was often inscribed with a mystic syllable, or a mantra.1 Smaller Tsa Tsas were often inserted into statues or chorten (stupa) for consecration, which took place during special ceremonies. The smaller one of these plaques depicts Mahakala, one of the most prominent guardians or protectors in Tibetan Buddhism. The medium-sized plaque depicts Avalokiteshvara, literally the all seeing one, the most important Bodhisattva and the embodiment of compassion. He is regarded as Tibets patron deity. The largest Tsa Tsa has a central figure of the Buddha, surrounded by several deities and further smaller figures in the background. It is exceptional in size with minimal decorative elements.1
1 - Reynolds, V. From the Sacred Realm, Treasures of Tibetan Art from The Newark Museum, Munich 1999