Ming Wooden Polychromed Bodhisattva

SKU AM.0161
Circa

1368 AD to 1644 AD

Dimensions

42″ (106.7cm) high x 22″ (55.9cm) wide

Medium

Wood

Origin

China

Gallery Location

UK


 

Buddhism was introduced to China from India in the early years of the first millennium. This statue represents 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. Usually dressed in elaborate attire, bodhisattvas were enlightened beings who had chosen to delay their entry into Nirvana to help other sentient beings end the cycle of birth and rebirth. Avalokiteshvara is identifiable by the small seated Buddha that appears in the headdress. This figure was immensely popular in China and it has been estimated that by the Tang period the number of images outnumbered those of the historical Buddha Shakyamuni. 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.

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