Ming Wooden Seated Bodhisattva

SKU RD.032

1500 AD to 1700 AD


painted wood



Gallery Location

S Korea


The Chinese Buddhist deity Guanyin is the Bodhisattva of Infinite Compassion (Sanskrit Avalokiteshvara) and an important figure in the Buddhist tradition. Bodhisattvas are enlightened beings who may pass into nirvana, the state of freedom from suffering and the endless cycle of rebirth. However they elect to reject Buddhahood as to allay suffering and help others attain enlightenment. Guanyin may appear in more than thirty different manifestations in the quest to aid others along the path to enlightenment. Bodhisattvas, being of a universal and inclusive nature, have technically transcended the physicality of gender; in sculptural form, however, bodhisattvas are generally presented as androgynous handsome males. In contrast, this sculpture of Guanyin can be read as being either male or female. The figure’s relaxed pose of rajalilasana, or posture of royal ease, with a raised leg and casually draped arm, did not become associated with the deity until late in the 9th century. Despite the languid posture, the torso retains a sense of unmoving solidness, disturbed neither by much movement nor by dramatic distortion. The skirt drapes the lower portion with beautiful ease, conforming to the shape of the body underneath. Temple sculptures were periodically redecorated and the present is wearing long robes conserving traces of red, blue, green and gilt pigments. The face is carved with a contemplative expression and the eyes are half closed below a dressed chignon, with looped tresses over the pierced ears.

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