Guanyin the Bringer of Sons


Not on view

The most precious treasure in premodern China was a son to carry on the family legacy. Reflecting this fervently held wish, a new form of Guanyin emerged that presented the bodhisattva as a bestower of sons. This intimate sculpture, in which Guanyin cradles the hoped-for baby boy, would have been made for personal veneration by a wealthy devotee who wished to become a mother. Note that the precocious child holds a book—a sign that he will become a great scholar and thereby advance the family’s standing.

Guanyin the Bringer of Sons, Sandalwood with traces of pigment and gilding, China

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