17th Century AD to 19th Century AD
69″ (175.3cm) high
Outstanding among Buddhist images is this Guanyin known as the Bodhisattva of Mercy and Compassion. The Guanyin makes helping others toward enlightenment her mission. Originally depicted as a male in early Chinese Buddhist forms, the Guanyin eventually became associated with a local Chinese Mother Goddess, “bringer of children,” and also because the gentleness and compassion of the deity suggest feminine qualities. Thus, a child accompanies the goddess figure either in her embrace or at her side.
Wearing a lavish crown of jewels illuminated by the glow of her halo, she stands atop a dragon submerged by the water gushing out of the vase she controls with her foot. The head, erect and frontal, shows the calm serenity of one who, having overcome the suffering of this world, has found peace in the lotus of the good law. Raised in the abhaya mudra the hand indicates that the faithful should have no fear but should put their trust in her. She holds a mala, rosary, in one hand and draped over her raised forearm as she assumes an elegant pose, her body clothed in exquisite silken robes of lotus decor.
The feeling of serenity that emanates from this religious figure is sure to touch those who share her presence. Guanyin sculptures were often worshipped by local women who gave offerings to the goddess in exchange for her protection and guidance in domestic affairs.