Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara of the Lion's Roar, or Simhanada Avalokiteshvara (Shi Hou Guanyin)

Period: Ming dynasty (1368–1644)

Date: late 15th–early 17th century

Culture: China

Medium: Wood (poplar) with pigment; single-woodblock construction

Dimensions: H. 42 1/8 in. (107 cm); W. 29 in. ( 73.7 cm); D. 13 in. (33 cm)

Classification: Sculpture

Credit Line: Purchase, The Dillon Fund Gift, in honor of Brooke Astor, 2000

Accession Number: 2000.270


Avalokiteshvara (the Bodhisattva of Compassion) and Manjushri (the Bodhisattva of Wisdom) are identifiable by the fact that both, at times, appear atop lions. As such, they are said to assume the form of Simhanada, or the Lion's Roar, which is a reference to the intensity of the moment of enlightenment. Here, the lion's recumbent pose and the bodhisattva's sidewise posture suggest that this sculpture represents Simhanada Avalokiteshvara, although the headdress does not bear the image of a seated Buddha, which is Avalokiteshvara's standard identifying attribute. Depictions of Simhanada Avalokiteshvara developed in India around the eleventh or twelfth century and appeared in China during the twelfth.