Representation of the Bodhisattva of
Mercy, known as Avalokiteshvara, or
Guanyin in Chinese. Bodhisattvas were
originally depicted as the Buddha’s
attendants but increasingly came to be
venerated in their own right.
Avalokiteshvara is identifiable by the small
seated Buddha that appears in the
Headdress. This figure was so popular in
China that by the Tang era its image
outnumbered those of the Buddha.
Although Buddhist texts do not specify the
gender of bodhisattvas, the early
examples tend to be male. From the end of
the Song Dynasty (1279) this trend was
reversed and by the Ming period such
images are clearly feminine. In this
sculpture Avalokiteshvara is seated on a
pedestal covered with an elaborate gilded
drapery which falls in concentric folds.
The Head is slightly bent and supported
by the right arm, with one of the
exquisitely carved fingers resting lightly
against the cheek. The upper body is bare
except for a delicate necklace and
celestial scarves. The lower body is
covered by a waist length tunic and all the
details of the costume are enlivened by
the use of red, green and blue pigments.
This work belongs to a group of three
bodhisattvas all in the Barakat collection.
The overall impression is one of immense
calm and meditation.- (AM.0162)