Standing Guanyin Bodhisattva


3rd year of the Wuding reign, Eastern Wei dynasty
545 CE
China
White stone
Bodhisattvas
Height 35.5 cm
2017.05

This standing Bodhisattva Guanyin statue is very well preserved. Its surface has yellowish brown and deep brown earth encrustations. The votive inscription engraved on the square base indicates that the statue was a votive object respectfully commissioned by the monk Daohe and other devotees in the 3rd year of the Wuding reign (545 CE) of the Eastern Wei period (534-550 CE).

This Guanyin statue is holding a lotus bud in his right hand and a peach-shaped object in his left. He wears a crown with floral and tendril decorations, and ribbons hanging down in front of the shoulders. He has an elongated face with plump cheeks, long narrow eyes with lifted outer corners, arched eyebrows with down-curving ends, a mouth hinting a smile; sloping narrow round shoulders, a flat solid chest and a slightly bulging belly. He wears a peach-shaped necklace around his chest, an upper undergarment (saṃkakṣikā) and a long skirt. The long shawl over the shoulders is held at the front by a circular ring to form a criss-cross, before dropping to knee-length and then making a U-turn to go around the elbows.

The drapery is still executed in parallel lines with a stepped profile, but the folds flow and turn spontaneously following the undulation of the figure. The lower part of the long robe drapes over the sides of the lotus pedestal. The boat-shaped mandorla behind this Guanyin statue has a plain surface devoid of decorative motifs. The facial features, clothing style and carving technique of this statue as well as the plain mandorla are all characteristics of the statuary of the Eastern Wei period.