Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Guanyin as the Nine-Lotus Bodhisattva

Unidentified Artist Chinese, late 16th century
Ming dynasty (1368–1644)
Hanging scroll; ink and color on silk
Image: 72 3/8 × 44 1/8 in. (183.8 × 112.1 cm) Overall with mounting: 119 7/8 × 54 in. (304.5 × 137.2 cm) Overall with knobs: 119 7/8 × 58 1/2 in. (304.5 × 148.6 cm)
Credit Line:
Rogers Fund, 1918
Accession Number:
Not on view
Many East Asian images of White-robed Guanyin (Japanese: Byakue Kannon) depict the bodhisattva in an idyllic setting meant to represent his abode in Potalaka (Japanese: Fudaraku). In this painting, made for a dowager empress in the Wanli era (1573–1615), Guanyin’s paradise is a Chinese palace garden.

Guanyin leans upon an elegant parapet and is backed by a grove of bamboo and a large rock. Lotuses bloom in a pond before the androgynously rendered bodhisattva, suggesting that this is also intended as a representation of the Nine-lotus Guanyin. The youthful visitor at lower left is Sudhana (Japanese: Zenzai dōji), a wealthy boy who, according to the final chapter of the Flower Garland Sutra, visited Guanyin in Potalaka during a long journey to learn the bodhisattva path.

When the Museum started building its collection of East Asian art, it relied on preeminent Japanese art dealer Yamanaka & Co. to negotiate acquisitions, including this rare Ming-dynasty Buddhist work.
Inscription: Artist’s inscription (1 column in standard script)

Made in the guisi year of the Wanli reign era of the great Ming dynasty [1593].


Collectors’ seals

Cisheng Empress Dowager 慈聖皇太后 (mother of the Shenzong Emperor, d. 1614)

Ming emperor Shenzong 明神宗 (r. 1572–1620)

Illegible: 3
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