Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva

UnknownGoryeo, 14th century

National Museum of Korea

National Museum of Korea
Seoul, South Korea

This Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva, sporting a multitude of jewels and a resplendent crown, is a striking example of the “Cakravartin” (轉輪聖王) posture. The figure is seated, with its right knee drawn up and its left leg resting on the floor. The right arm is extended to rest relaxingly on the right knee, while the left arm is braced on the floor behind the left leg. Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva sculptures with the Cakravartin posture were very popular during the Song and Yuan Dynasties in China. In Korea, however, such statues are quite rare, although the Cakravartin posture does appear in Buddhist paintings of the late Goryeo and early Joseon Dynasties. This Avalokiteshvara is wearing the crown of the Nirmana-Buddha, oversized flower earrings, and numerous jewels and accessories, all reflecting the style of Lamaism, a Tibetan- Mongolian form of Buddhism. But here, the sensuousness and excessive ornamentation that are characteristic of Lamaist styles are actually somewhat reduced and restrained. Thus, the comparatively moderate and rather simplified form of the statue demonstrates that foreign styles of Buddhist sculpture were received, interpreted, and developed in ways that were uniquely Korean.


  • Title: Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva
  • Creator: Unknown
  • Date Created: Goryeo, 14th century
  • Physical Dimensions: h38.5 cm
  • Original Title: 관음보살
  • Type: Sculpture
  • Rights: National Museum of Korea

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