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
[ Yamanaka & Co. , until 1918; sold to MMA]
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Manifestations of the Merciful Bodhisattva: Kannon," 1989.

New York. Asia Society. "The Story of a Painting: The Korean Buddhist Treasure from the Burke Foundation," April 23, 1991–July 28, 1991.

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, 1998–January 3, 1999.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The World of Scholars' Rocks: Gardens, Studios, and Paintings," February 1, 2000–August 20, 2000.

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, 2003–September 21, 2003.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Secular and Sacred: Scholars, Deities, and Immortals in Chinese Art," September 10, 2005–January 8, 2006.

Related Objects

Hinagata chō (Model Book)

Date: 19th century Medium: Watercolor and ink on paper Accession: JIB138 On view in:Not on view

The Style of Woman's Fashion

Medium: Black and white illustrations with captions; ink on paper Accession: JIB154 On view in:Not on view

Illustrated book

Medium: Ink drawings Accession: JIB156 On view in:Not on view

Album of Sketches for Lacquer Decoration

Date: 1839 Medium: Ink and color on paper Accession: JIB134 On view in:Not on view

Karaki Masaemon

Date: 19th century Medium: Polychrome woodblock print; ink and color on paper Accession: JP212.49 On view in:Not on view