Guanyin the Bringer of Sons

Unidentified artist

Not on view

A rare example of ecclesiastical painting from the end of the Ming period, this richly colored painting presents Guanyin (Avalokiteshvara in Sanskrit), the Bodhisattva of Infinite Compassion, in a peculiarly Chinese manifestation as the provider of male offspring. Guanyin is seated on a lion (a symbol of royalty in India), descending toward the worshiper on a plume of clouds while holding a baby in his arms. The child is girded by a jewel-encrusted belt and holds an imposing seal, both emblems of high official rank. Below him is the adoring figure of Sudhana, the young boy whose auspicious birth enabled him to set forth immediately on a quest for spiritual enlightenment.

Guanyin the Bringer of Sons, Unidentified artist  , late 16th century, Hanging scroll; ink, color, and gold on silk, China

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