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Bodhisattva of Compassion (Guanyin)
Bodhisattva of Compassion (Guanyin), 1271-1368
Chinese
Wood (linden) with traces of painted and gilt decoration
49 x 32 x 20 inches (124.5 x 81.3 x 50.8 cm)
Gift of Charles H. Ludington from the George Crofts Collection, 1925
1925-53-11
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Looking Questions

  • Who is this sculpture depicting?
  • Is the figure male or female? Young or old? What details make you think so?
  • What do you notice about this statue’s attire, accessories, and headdress?
  • Can you describe the figure’s posture and the position of its arms and legs?
  • What parts of the statue look most realistic to you? Do any look idealized (perfect)?

Art Activity: Capturing Mood

Can you describe this Guanyin’s mood just by studying its facial features and expressions? Divide students into small groups. Pick two models from each group and have them make facial expressions showing opposite moods: happy or sad, calm or excited, etc. Other group members should draw these expressions. How do facial features like eyes or mouth change as the model’s mood changes? Students can take turns as the model.

Research Activity: Changing Forms of Guanyin

Guanyin is the most beloved of bodhisattvas, and can appear in many forms according to the culture, country, and devotee. This figure is also known as: Avalokiteshvara in India, Quan âm in Vietnam, Kwanum in Korea, Kannon in Japan, and Chenrezig in Tibet. Have students look through books and on the Internet for images of Guanyin from all of these countries. Make a display in your classroom of the many forms of this figure. Compare and contrast the images.

Group Project: Body Language

What does the sculptor tell us about this Guanyin by its body position? Have students bring in images of famous people—dignitaries, religious leaders, athletes, movie stars, etc. Discuss how each figure is posing and what their poses tell about their attitude, mood, or personality. Can students imitate the poses? Have each group present their poses to the class.
 

For more information, please contact The Division of Education by phone at (215) 684-7580, by fax at (215) 236-4063, or by e-mail at .

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