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Bodhisattva Guanyin

Asian Art

On View: Asian Galleries, Southwest, 2nd floor
This long, slender representation of Guanyin, identified by the Buddha on the head, was made for the Dali kingdom of southern China. The Dali rulers commissioned many of these figures as copies of a distinctive Guanyin sculpture made by an earlier kingdom in the region.
MEDIUM Cast bronze, traces of gilding
  • Place Made: Yunnan, China
  • DATES 11th–12th century
    PERIOD Dali Kingdom
    DIMENSIONS 19 1/8 x 5 x 2 3/4 in. (48.6 x 12.7 x 7 cm)  (show scale)
    CREDIT LINE Gift of the Asian Art Council
    CATALOGUE DESCRIPTION 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 figure's 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 figure's ankles. Vertical pleats descend on both sides and between the figure's 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.
    MUSEUM LOCATION This item is on view in Asian Galleries, Southwest, 2nd floor
    CAPTION Bodhisattva Guanyin, 11th–12th century. Cast bronze, traces of gilding, 19 1/8 x 5 x 2 3/4 in. (48.6 x 12.7 x 7 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of the Asian Art Council, 1995.48. Creative Commons-BY (Photo: Brooklyn Museum, 1995.48_SL1.jpg)
    IMAGE overall, 1995.48_SL1.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph
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    RIGHTS STATEMENT Creative Commons-BY
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