Bodhisattva Guanyin

Unknown11th-12th century

Brooklyn Museum

Brooklyn Museum

This cast bronze image of Guanyin, the God of Mercy, (Sanskrit: the Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara), is one of a small group of such figures worshipped as the incarnation of the Indian monk who brought Buddhism to the semi-independent kingdom of Dali (fl. A.D. 649-1253), located in the present-day province of Yunnan, in south-central China. The Bodhisattva is shown standing barefoot, with the right hand raised in the vitarka-mudra and the left extended in the varada-mudra. The elaborate, finely engraved coiffure is held by braids or twisted cords that secure an image of the Buddha Amitabha above the crown which rests on the figures forehead. The face is finely sculpted with a serene expression, long undulating eyes, a flattened nose and pursed lips. The earlobes are pierced, decorated with heavy earrings, and extend to the shoulders. The neck is formed of three delicate folds of flesh and is surrounded with a wide, decorated necklace secured with a loosely knotted cord at the back.The figure wears elaborate armbands on the upper part of each arm and a string of beads on the right wrist. The high, slender waist is accented with a belt decorated with eight-petaled floral bosses. The long pleated skirt is secured with an elaborate sash knotted at the front and on the hips, and hands in stylized folds to the figures ankles. Vertical pleats descend on both sides and between the figures legs. The fabric of the skirt clings to the figure and forms a pattern of horizontal folds across the legs. On the relatively undecorated back of the figure are two rectangular openings, one between the shoulders and one below the waistband. (The Chinese Porcelain Company notes that these openings typically held items of devotion.) Two prongs below the bare feet secure the image on a modern black laminate-covered display base, which measures 3 1/2 in high x 6 1/8 wide x 4 3/8 in. deep.Condition: The figure is generally intact. The surface is relatively clean, and the face is particularly well polished. On the top of the head there is an old, small hole. There are traces of gilding on the entire suface of the figure, especially around the waist, the nechlace, neck, and head of the figure. In addition there are traces of an unidentified black substance on the surface, especially on the arms and chest and in the pleats of the skirt. Of the two openings in the back, the lower one is tightly sealed with bronze and the upper one is more loosely closed with an unidentified red-brown substance.

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  • Title: Bodhisattva Guanyin
  • Creator: Unknown
  • Date Created: 11th-12th century
  • Location Created: Yunnan, China
  • Type: (not assigned)
  • Rights: Gift of the Asian Art Council
  • External Link: http://www.brooklynmuseum.org/opencollection/objects/4285/Bodhisattva_Guanyin
  • Medium: Cast bronze, traces of gilding
  • Period: Dali Kingdom
  • Dimensions: 18 7/8 x 4 1/2 x 3 in. (47.9 x 11.4 x 7.6cm)
  • Collection: Asian Art
  • Accession number: 1995.48