Eleven-headed bodhisattva Guanyin


Not on view

The central figure in this magnificent embroidery is eleven-headed Guanyin, one of many manifestations of the compassionate bodhisattva. The eleven heads symbolize steps on the path to enlightenment.

This hanging illustrates the highest achievement of imperial Qing embroidery works of the eighteenth century. The embroidery features elaborate details. These include one thousand arms encircling Guanyin’s body with an eye in the center of the palm of each hand. An ink inscription on the object’s back panel indicates it was created in 1778 under the third Changkya Khutukhtu (1717–86), a Mongolian Tibetan Buddhist representative at the Qing court.

Inscription on the back in Chinese, Manchurian, Tibetan, and Mongolian: “On the twenty-fourth day of the fourth month of the forty-third year of
Qianlong reign [May 20, 1778] the Emperor [Qianlong] commanded the Changkya Khutukhtu to supervise this embroidery [of] eleven-headed Bodhisattva Guanyin.”

Eleven-headed bodhisattva Guanyin, Silk and metal thread embroidery, China

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