According to Buddhist belief, Guanyin (Avalokiteshvara, in Sanskrit), Bodhisattva of Infinite Compassion, reveals himself in many forms. In one such manifestation, known simply as the White-Robed Guanyin, the Bodhisattva sits on the rocky island of Putuo (Potalaka, in Sanskrit), believed by the Chinese to be located offshore from Ningbo, in Zhejiang Province.
The poem was inscribed (from left to right) by Quanshi Zongle:
The body is as small as specks of dust and as ephemeral, So is the doctrine ephemeral and small as specks of dust; The world of all living things is but emptiness, And so Guanyin’s compassionate heart is at rest.
Quanshi Zongle, appointed by the first Ming emperor to the highest administrative position governing Chan institutions, served as abbot of the Tianjie temple, near Nanjing, first about 1375 and later from 1388 until his death in 1391. The painting, inscribed at the Tianjie temple, is datable to the end of the fourteenth century.
This artwork is meant to be viewed from right to left. Scroll left to view more.
with mounting, rollers and knobs
Use your arrow keys to navigate the tabs below, and your tab key to choose an item
明 佚名 全室宗泐題贊 白衣觀音圖 軸
Artist:Unidentified artist (late 14th century)
Period:Ming dynasty (1368–1644)
Date:late 14th century
Medium:Hanging scroll; ink on paper
Dimensions:Image: 36 x 12 7/8 in. (91.4 x 32.7 cm) Overall with mounting: 70 x 17 5/8 in. (177.8 x 44.8 cm) Overall with knobs: 70 x 19 1/2 in. (177.8 x 49.5 cm)
Credit Line:Edward Elliott Family Collection, Purchase, The Dillon Fund Gift, 1982
Inscription: No Artist’s inscription, signature or seal
Inscription on painting
Quanshi Zongle全室宗泐 (1318–1391), 6 columns in standard script, undated; 1 seal:
Like a speck of dust, ephemeral is the body, So is the doctrine ephemeral, like a speck of dust. Only when all sentient beings and the world attain emptiness Will Guanyin’s all-compassionate heart rest.
Written by Monk Zongle of the Tianjie Monastery with utmost respect. [Seal]: Seng Zongle yin
塵塵刹刹身，刹刹塵塵說。 眾生世界空，大士悲心歇。 天界釋宗泐九拜書。 [印]：僧宗泐印
 Translation from Wen C. Fong, Beyond Representation: Chinese Painting and Calligraphy 8th–14th Century. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1992, p. 362.
[ S. Yabumoto Co., Ltd. 藪本宗四郎 Japanese, Tokyo]; Ellen B. Elliott , Princeton, NJ, 1981; sold to MMA]
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Traditional Scholarly Values at the End of the Qing Dynasty: The Collection of Weng Tonghe (1830–1904)," June 30–January 3, 1999.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "A Millennium of Chinese Painting: Masterpieces from the Permanent Collection," September 8, 2001–January 13, 2002.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Great Waves: Chinese Themes in the Arts of Korea and Japan II," March 22–September 21, 2003.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Douglas Dillon Legacy: Chinese Painting for the Metropolitan Museum," March 12–August 8, 2004.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Brush and Ink: The Chinese Art of Writing," September 2, 2006–January 21, 2007.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Yuan Revolution: Art and Dynastic Change," August 21, 2010–January 9, 2011.
Poughkeepsie. Frances Lehman Loeb Art Center, Vassar College. "Embodying Compassion in Buddhist Art: Image, Pilgrimage and Practice," April 23, 2015–June 28, 2015.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Show and Tell: Stories in Chinese Painting," October 29, 2016–August 6, 2017.
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Another World Lies Beyond: Chinese Art and the Divine," August 24, 2019–January 5, 2020.
Suzuki Kei 鈴木敬, ed. Chûgoku kaiga sogo zuroku: Daiikan, Amerika-Kanada Hen 中國繪畫總合圖錄: 第一卷 アメリカ - カナダ 編 (Comprehensive illustrated catalog of Chinese paintings: vol. 1 American and Canadian collections) Tokyo: University of Tokyo Press, 1982, p. 126, cat. no. A17-001.
Fong, Wen C. Beyond Representation: Chinese Painting and Calligraphy, 8th–14th Century. New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1992, p. 360, pl. 80.
The Met Collection API is where all makers, creators, researchers, and dreamers can connect to the most up-to-date data and public domain images for The Met collection. Open Access data and public domain images are available for unrestricted commercial and noncommercial use without permission or fee.
We continue to research and examine historical and cultural context for objects in The Met collection. If you have comments or questions about this object record, please complete and submit this form. The Museum looks forward to receiving your comments.