VIRTUAL COLLECTION OF ASIAN MASTERPIECES

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Bodhisattva Guanyin
AK-MAK-84
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Why this is a
Masterpiece

Guanyin is dressed like a rich Indian prince. He is wearing a jewelled necklace, bands around the upper arms, a flimsy robe with loose shawls and an ornamental headdress. His hair is partly gathered at the top and partly loose. In India, the home of Buddhism, this was the traditional way to depict a Bodhisattva. It was adopted throughout the Buddhist world. Numerous Guanyin statues were made in China; they were designed for temple altars. This statue is one of the finest of its kind. The full, rounded physique and the realistic pose lend the figure an impressive, monumental aspect. Details, such as the necklace and the shawls have been carved with great care, deep into the wood.

History of the Object
The statue has suffered from centuries of wear. The remains of paint and gilt reveal it to have been quite a colourful statue once. The sculptor made a hole in the deity's forehead which would originally have contained a jewel. There is also something missing in the headdress; Guanyin almost always carries a small statue of Buddha Amitâbha, his spiritual father, here. In this statue the Amitâbha figure has been lost, although the place where it once stood can be seen.

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Type
Sculpture 
Materials
Wood, polychromy, gold 
Measurements
h. 117 cm; w. 130 cm 
Creator name
Unknown 
Creator date
Unknown 
Where it was made
China 
Geography
China 
Time period
AD 12th century ~ AD 12th century 
Creation date
12th Century 
Function
Guanyin is the most popular Bodhisattva in the Buddhist world. He rescues those in need, offers succour to those in fear and under threat. He saves victims of shipwrecks and protects against theft, while also helping the faithful to produce male offspring. 
Acquisition
Purchase in 1939; acquired with support of the Vereniging Rembrandt. Long term loan Rijksmuseum 1972 
Copyright
 
Acknowledgements
 
Owner
Vereniging van Vrienden der Aziatische Kunst 
Museum
Rijksmuseum 
Credit line
 

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