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Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara (Guanyin)

Period:
Yuan dynasty (1271–1368)
Date:
dated 1282
Culture:
China
Medium:
Willow with traces of pigment; single woodblock construction
Dimensions:
a) Guanyin: 39 1/4 in. (99.7 cm) b) Inscribed block: H. 6 1/2 in. (16.5 cm); W. 2 1/4 in. (5.7 cm); D. 1 in. (2.5 cm)
Classification:
Sculpture
Credit Line:
Purchase, Joseph Pulitzer Bequest, 1934
Accession Number:
34.15.1a, b
  • Description

    The consecratory chamber at the back of this sculpture was closed with a piece of wood, the back of which bears an inscription dating the work to 1282. Interestingly, the wood also has a small indentation that was once used to hold a mirror (long regarded as protective and auspicious devices in Chinese culture), making this sculpture one of two works on view in this gallery to have included one.

    The bodhisattva has a rounded physique and stands in a slightly twisting pose, which creates a sense of depth. Both conventions attest to the introduction of Indo-Himalayan sculptural traditions in China in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries, when the Mongols controlled both China and parts of Tibet. The dramatic rendering of the hair, in which individual strands or braids stand upright and terminate in curls, also derives from these traditions, though in India and Tibet the hairstyle is generally ascribed to ferocious protectors rather than benevolent bodhisattvas.

  • See also
    What
    Where
    When
    In the Museum
    Heilbrunn Timeline of Art History
    MetPublications
61658

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