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HOME : Chinese Art : Archive : Painted Wooden Sculpture of the Bodhisattva Guanyin
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Painted Wooden Sculpture of the Bodhisattva Guanyin - X.0705
Origin: China
Circa: 15 th Century AD to 17 th Century AD
Dimensions: 41.50" (105.4cm) high x 26" (66.0cm) wide
Collection: Chinese
Medium: Wood

Additional Information: SOLD

Location: Great Britain
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Beautifully carved figure, the polychrome pigments-still intact- further enhancing the richness of the ornamentation, including a gilded pinnacled crown, blue-tinged hair and pilgrim scarf, red completion and ochre tunic. Seated in padmasana, one hand in varada mudra, the other raised. Eyes and lips serrated to evoke a serene meditative state of mind.

The confession of the Great Vehicle, Mahayana (chin.: Dasheng), spread from Kashmir, Gandhara, Sogdia and Inner Asia into China, and further to Korea and Japan. It teaches that salvation is possible to all sentient beings because they possess the Buddha nature in them and hence all have the potentiality of being enlightened. Enlightenment is simply achieved by faith and devotion to Buddha and the religious ideal, the Bodhisattva (chin.: Pusa), Pratyekabuddha (chin.: Pizhifo) or Arhat (chin.: Aluohan, short: Luohan). These beings, though qualified to enter nirvana, delay their final entry in order to bring every sentient being across the sea of misery to the calm shores of enlightenment. The most important Bodhisattvas are Manjushri (chin.: Wenshushili), the Bodhisattva of Wisdom, Avalokitesvara ("Observing the Sounds of the World", chin.: Guanshiyin, short: Guanyin, or Guanzizai), the Bodhisattva of Compassion, and Samantabhadra ("Universal Goodness", chin.: Puxian), the Meditation Teacher. Buddha appears in different shapes, according to the belief that Buddha appears in every age in a special appearance, like Amitabha (Amitayus, "Buddha of Endless Light", chin.: Namo Amituofo, jap.: Amida Butsu) or Vairocana "Universal Illuminator" or Lokesvaraja (chin.: Pilushena, short: Lushena), the Buddha of the Past; Maitreya (chin.: Milefo), the Buddha of Future.

The first Buddhist parishes, such as the White Horse Temple (bai ma si) are found in China in the 1st century AD and focused mainly on the suppression of passions by means of meditation, charity and compassion. Yet, the first great time of Buddhism in China was during the Eastern Jin Dynasty, when the new religion entered the gentry class, including both the landowning class and the scholars, giving both groups a stronghold in a time of ceaseless war. It was then with the Non-Chinese Tuoba rulers of the Northern Wei Dynasty that Buddhism was finally formalized as a state-religion. The transition of the foreign religion into a Chinese one was made easy especially by the ideal of charity and compassion of Mahayana Buddhism, ideals somewhat reminiscent of Confucian filial piety and the compassion of the ruler for his subjects. The maturity and great age of Buddhism in China was the Tang Dynasty. But this age was not free of persecution, especially by Confucian oriented statesman that wanted to get rid of the foreign religion. Many people converted and entered a monastery to escape military service and tax paying. At the end, the revival of Confucianism under the Song Dynasty caused the decline of Buddhism as a state religion. However, as popular belief, Buddhism remained very widespread, but highly mixed with Taoist belief. Buddhism and its icons became part of the Chinese culture like dragons and chopsticks. The Laughing Buddha ("Pot-Belly Buddha") is the transformation of an Indian ascetic into a deity objecting Chinese ideals. The Indian stupa, a small building that contains relics of the Buddha or his scholars, and at the same time symbolizing the center of the Indian universe, mount Meru, became the Ceylonese dagoba, the Thai chedi, the Tibetian cherten and finally the Chinese nine-floor pagoda (ta). - (X.0705)


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