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Guanyin in Royal Posture (maharajalila).
Vp 43
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Why this is a
Masterpiece

The Guayin in the National Gallery in Prague is seated in the royal posture in a very relaxed, almost casual manner, with her right leg flexed and the left limb extended forward and down. The right arm rests on the right knee and the left is leaning against the pedestal. She is wearing a full robe and a dhoti skirt. Her chest is bejeweled and sashes are draped over the shoulders. The hair, worn in a high chignon, is adorned with a tiara. This once featured a seated statue/figure of the Amitabha Buddha as its central jewel, but it is no longer extant. Guanyin‘s lovely, delicately-carved face with full lips is especially noteworthy. Gazing toward the ground, the half-closed eyes endow the statue with a contemplative mood. Originally, the sculpture was brightly painted. The blue-green-yellow- - red-hued polychrome, which is still discernible today, was painted on a paper-maché base. On the reverse side, Guanyin has an aperture, now covered with a small tablet, which used to serve as a receptacle for offerings.

History of the Object
In iconographic manuals of Mahayana Buddhism, there are thirty-six to 108 forms of Avalokitesvara, the Bodhisattva of compassion (Guanyin, in Chinese). In Chinese art of the early Song Dynasty, the Bodhisattva received a female form. Guanyin is depicted seated on a rock, astride a cloud or a dragon, or as a girl carrying a basket of fish, or holding a child in her arms. Her attributes are a lotus flower or a willow twig in the right hand and a vase containing a heavenly dew or nectar of immortality in the left. In the early phase of Buddhism, Guanyin was often portrayed in the royal ease posture (maharajalila).

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Type
Sculpture 
Materials
Polychrome wood 
Measurements
Height 82 cm 
Creator name
Unknown 
Creator date
Unknown 
Where it was made
China 
Geography
China 
Time period
AD 12th century ~ AD 13th century 
Creation date
12th Century - 13th Century; Song/Jin Dynasty 
Function
Buddhist statue 
Acquisition
After the founding the People’s Republic of China in 1949, Czechoslovakia was the first country to acknowledge the newly-established state in the international arena. Throughout the 1950s (and until its rift with the Soviet Union in 1963), delegations of technical and cultural cadres from Communist Czechoslovakia visited China, where they purchased Chinese art objects. During his visit to China in 1951, the then Minister of Education, Science and the Arts purchased this large-size ancient sculpture for the National Gallery in Prague 
Copyright
National Gallery in Prague 
Acknowledgements
Petra Pollaková, Ladislav Kesner, Oldřich Král, Lubor Hájek 
Owner
National Gallery in Prague 
Museum
The National Gallery 
Credit line
National Gallery in Prague 

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