Seated Guanyin Bodhisattva


Seated Guanyin Bodhisattva, 960–1279, Song Dynasty

  • On View

Willow wood and pigment

Dimensions: 39 × 27 × 24 3/4 in. (99.1 × 68.6 × 62.9 cm)

Gift of Genevieve and Richard Shaw, by exchange, 2011.4

This sculpture most likely represents Guanyin, a popular bodhisattva closely associated with Pure Land Buddhism, a sect of Buddhism based on faith. Believers hope to be reborn to the peaceful, beautiful and pure land where they are instructed by Amitābha Buddha and numerous bodhisattvas until they reach full and complete enlightenment. In order to do this, the Guanyin bodhisattva must descend from the Pure Land to save souls on earth. To indicate this flight, the artist has included wing-like extensions on the bodhisattva’s sleeves. The figure’s downcast eyes also indicate that it is descending from the sky.

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