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Padmasambhava, Tibet, 1400s. Bronze with silver, copper and turquoise inlay, height: 8.625 in, 21.91 cm; width: 5.25 in, 13.33 cm; diameter: 4 in, 10.16 cm. Gift of Mrs. Florence J. Ruest in memory of her son, Mr. Ralph W. Jacobs, 1980.57 © Denver Art Museum

Padmasambhava means “lotus-born” and refers to the legend that he was found on a lotus in a lake in Northwest India. He is greatly revered in Tibet as a founder of the Nyingma (Red Hat) order of Buddhism and the country’s first monastery, Samye. He sits here in his customary position on a lotus blossom, easily recognizable in his eagle-feathered cap and with his traditional attributes of dorje thunderbolt, skull cup, and khatvanga staff. The decoration of the robes and the copper and silver on the eyes and lips dramatize this idealized image.