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[AC] Mead Art Museum at Amherst College; [HC] Hampshire College Art Gallery;
[HD] Historic Deerfield; [MH] Mount Holyoke College Art Museum; [MH SK] The Joseph Allen Skinner Museum at Mount Holyoke College; [SC] Smith College Museum of Art; [UM] University Museum of Contemporary Art at UMASS Amherst

 


Maker(s):Unknown
Culture:Chinese
Title:Guanyin (Avalokiteshvara)
Date Made:960-1368 (Song Dynasty or Yuan Dynasty)
Type:Sculpture
Materials:Wood, gesso, paint, and gilding
Place Made:Asia; China
Measurements:Overall: 35 in x 21 in x 12 in; 88.9 cm x 53.3 cm x 30.5 cm
Accession Number:  MH 2012.40.2
Credit Line:Gift of the Arthur M. Sackler Foundation
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Currently on view

Description:
Upper torso and head of Guanyin (Buddhist deity of compassion and mercy), figure wears sumptuously detailed garments, jewelry and drown.

Label Text:
This sculpture has survived in remarkable condition for centuries, and though it has lost its hands and lower body, it retains its original presence and power. Guanyin is among the most beloved bodhisattvas (enlightened beings) in Buddhism, and is associated with compassion—reflected here in the graceful, down-turned eyes and subtle smile.

The curving lines of the cheeks, lips, and eyes suggest a feminine deity, while the body’s straight lines evoke masculinity. This is not unusual for depictions of Guanyin in this period; early images of the bodhisattva are male, while depictions after the 12th century are mostly female. One can only imagine the original impact of this regal sculpture, painted colorfully and ornamented in gold.

-Kendra Weisbin, Associate Curator of Education, Mount Holyoke College Art Museum (Sept. 2016)

Within the Buddhist pantheon, Bodhisattvas are
enlightened beings who have renounced nirvana, or paradise, in order to help others attain enlightenment.
This sculpture represents Guanyin, the Chinese version
of the Indian Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara, the deity of
mercy and compassion. The figure of Guanyin can be
depicted as either male and female, but usually inclines toward the feminine, as is seen in this example. In China, women often prayed to the Bodhisattva Guanyin for children, usually for males who would ensure the continuation of the patriarchal family line.

(2004)

Keywords/Tags:
ancient; archaeology

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