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Guanyin Seated in Royal Ease

Artist/maker unknown, Chinese

Made in Guanyintang, Henan Province, China, Asia


Wood (yellowwood) with traces of paint and gilded decoration

49 x 32 x 20 inches (124.5 x 81.3 x 50.8 cm)

Curatorial Department:
East Asian Art

* Gallery 339, Asian Art, third floor (Hollis Baldeck Gallery)

Accession Number:

Credit Line:
Gift of Charles H. Ludington from the George Crofts Collection, 1925

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This sculpture, with its relaxed pose and serene expression, makes it is easy to understand why Guanyin, the Bodhisattva of Compassion, was one of the most popular and widely worshiped Buddhist deities in China. As with other bodhisattvas, Guanyin delayed her own enlightenment in order to help others.

The name of this particular representation, Water Moon Guanyin, appears after the 1100s and refers to a chapter in the Avatamsaka Sūtra (Flower Garland Sutra). The text tells how Guanyin sits in a rocky grotto meditating on the reflection of the moon on the water, a metaphor for the illusory nature of all things and a reminder not to be overly attached to earthly matters.

On the figure’s back is a rectangular opening where relics and other holy materials would have been consecrated in order to “activate” the deity.

* Works in the collection are moved off view for many different reasons. Although gallery locations on the website are updated regularly, there is no guarantee that this object will be on display on the day of your visit.