Standing Willow Guanyin Bodhisattva

Tang dynasty
618-907 CE
Gilt bronze
Height 18.2 cm

The Willow Guanyin is the foremost amongst the 33 ‘responsive manifestations’ of Guanyin, set out in the Chapter “Universal Gateway of Bodhisattva Guanyin” in the Lotus Sutra. It says, “In case a sentient being should be delivered as a Buddha, Guanyin will manifest in the body of the Buddha to give guidance.”

The iconography typically portrays Guanyin in standing or seated posture, with a willow branch in hand to symbolise his divine power of eliminating disasters and relieving sentient beings from illness and other sufferings. As a result of crude casting and centuries of weathering, the facial features and details of this standing Willow Guanyin of the Tang dynasty (618-907 CE) are blurred. The openwork nimbus features a lobed centrepiece connected to the outer ring by small circlets, and further surrounded by flaming motifs.

The Bodhisattva has a ‘goose-egg’ shaped face, broad shoulders, a narrow waist, a slightly bulging chest and belly, and proportionately longer arms. The lifted right hand is clutching a willow branch while the left hand is holding a purifying bottle. The shawl glides down from the shoulders in winding movement to reach the double-lotus pedestal with a square stand. The lotus petals are executed with fine incised lines. In front of the lotus pedestal are two lotus leaves supporting a lotus blossom.