Exhibitions/ Art Object

White-Robed Kannon

Kamakura period (1185–1333)
13th century
Hanging scroll; ink and color on silk
Image: 29 1/2 × 15 3/8 in. (74.9 × 39.1 cm) 59 1/2 × 21 1/2 in. (151.1 × 54.6 cm) Overall with knobs: 59 1/2 × 23 1/4 in. (151.1 × 59.1 cm)
Credit Line:
The Harry G. C. Packard Collection of Asian Art, Gift of Harry G. C. Packard, and Purchase, Fletcher, Rogers, Harris Brisbane Dick, and Louis V. Bell Funds, Joseph Pulitzer Bequest, and The Annenberg Fund Inc. Gift, 1975
Accession Number:
Not on view
This graceful frontal view of Kannon (Sanskrit: Pandaravasini) emphasizes the deity's dignity and compassion. It derives from Esoteric Buddhist iconography that systematically groups deities into mandalas of the two worlds: the Diamond World Mandala and the Womb World Mandala. White-robed Kannon is one of twenty-one Kannon in the Lotus Court section of the Womb World Mandala. The bodhisattva's pose, with one leg pendent, seems to be a precursor to the more relaxed pose he assumes in the monochrome ink painting of White-robed Kannon in a landscape. Here, Kannon, wearing a delicately decorated white robe and sitting on a white lotus pedestal, conforms to the feminized concept of “Mother Kannon,” an aspect of the deity that was developed further in later medieval worship. Some stiffness of line in the robes is probably the result of copying from a model. More fluid brushstrokes in the lotus petals create a sense of volume, a quality that suggests a thirteenth-century date for this work.
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