Lot 1305: Chinese Large Avalokiteshvara Figure
December 8, 2016
London, United KingdomLive Auction
Description: 19th century AD. A carved Tang style marble statue of the bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara modelled in the round in Tang Dynasty style, standing with loosely draped robes to the hips, sashes and ribbons to the torso, carefully dressed hair with ten facing masks to the hair; mounted on a custom-made stand. Cf. Lee, S. A History of Far Eastern Art, New York, 1994, fig. 222. For a similar example see 70.5 kg, 109cm including stand (43"). Ex Kinnaird collection, Oxford, UK, formed in the early 1980s; thence by decent 2015. The Sanskrit name Avalokiteshvara means the lord who looks upon the world with compassion, and is the embodiment of great compassion. He has vowed to free all sentient beings from suffering. In China he is known as Guan Yin and in Japan as Kannon where he is primarily worshipped in female form; after the Buddha he is the most popular figure of devotion. Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva is has great powers and can help all sentient beings by taking on many forms. In Buddhist art, Avalokiteshvara is sometimes shown with eleven heads, a thousand hands with eyes on the palms of each hand. The thousand eyes allow the bodhisattva to see the sufferings of sentient beings, and the thousand hands allow him to reach out to help them. Avalokiteshvara has postponed his own Buddhahood until he has helped every sentient being on earth achieve liberation from suffering and the process of death and rebirth. He guards the world in the interval between the departure of the historical Buddha, Gautama, and the appearance of the future Buddha, Maitreya. Worship of the bodhisattva under the name of Guanyin was introduced into China as early as the first century AD and had entered all Buddhist temples by the sixth century. Representations of the bodhisattva in China prior to the early Song dynasty (960?1279) are unmistakenly masculine in appearance. During the Song, some images were male and some displayed attributes of both genders. Since at least the eleventh century, however, Avalokiteshvara has been primarily worshipped as a beautiful young woman; this is how the bodhisattva continues to be primarily worshipped in Korea, Japan, and Vietnam, as well as in some areas of Myanmar, Thailand and Cambodia.
Condition Report: Fine condition, hands and feet absent.