Collection online

figure

  • Object type

  • Museum number

    1980,0728.290

  • Description

    'Blanc de chine' figure of Guanyin with transparent glaze. This windswept blanc de Chine figure of Guanyin, the Goddess of Mercy, shows her standing on a cloud pedestal with arms held by her sides. Originally the hands, which are now missing, would have been held together. She wears a mantilla over her hair, long flowing robes and beaded necklaces. Her feet are just visible beneath her gown. Her eyes are cast down with a benevolent expression. The deep carving of the figure's robes and pale yellow-tinged glaze are typical features of porcelain figures made at the Dehua kilns in the late Ming period.

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  • Culture/period

  • Date

    • 1600-1644 (circa)
  • Production place

  • Findspot

  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Height: 46.3 centimetres
    • Width: 14.5 centimetres (max)
  • Curator's comments

    Zwalf 1985

    In Ming and Qing dynasty Buddhist art Avalokitesvara is often represented as female. The reasons for this are imperfectly understood, but it was at least partly due to the introduction during the 8th century of the Indian goddess Pandaravasini, associated with Avalokitesvara. In Chinese her name was ‘baiyi’ Guanyin (White-robed Guanyin), where ‘baiyi’ corresponds exactly to the Sanskrit. Early images of a cowled female Bodhisattva, dating from the Song dynasty, are found at Maiji shan (cave 165), Gansu province, and at Dazu (cave 136), Sichuan. From the 17th century onwards the porcelain kilns at Dehua were celebrated for their production of Buddhist models, amongst which Guanyin figures were prominentHarrison-Hall 2001:
    Guanyin is the Chinese mother goddess, acredited with the ability to grant the gift of children. She is a Chinese adaptation of the Indian god Avalokitesvara. Although she is a Buddhist goddess, worship of Guanyin was intricately entwined with Daoist and popular beliefs. Images of the Bodhisattva Guanyin are the most numerous among the Museum's collections. She appears to have been the most popular subject for depiction at Dehua from the Wanli period onwards through the Qing. The Palace Museum in Beijing has a similar Ming figure of Guanyin on a cloud base in a slightly different pose. The figure is very similar to images of the goddess cast in bronze, such as a figure in the British Museum which was acquired by Professor Jessica Rawson for display alongside the porcelain figure in the Hotung Gallery in 1991.

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  • Bibliography

    • Harrison-Hall 2001 17:15 bibliographic details
    • Zwalf 1985 303 bibliographic details
  • Location

    Not on display

  • Exhibition history

    Exhibited:

    1996 14 Jun-29 Sep, London, The British Library, The Mythical Quest

  • Subjects

  • Associated names

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date

    1980

  • Department

    Asia

  • Registration number

    1980,0728.290

Blanc de chine figure of Guanyin, the Goddes of Mercy, standing on a cloud pedestal with arms held by her sides. Originally the hands, which are now missing, would have been held together. She wears a mantilla over her hair, long flowering robes and beaded necklaces. Her feet are just visible beneath her gown. Her eyes are cast down with a benevolent expression. The deep carving of the robes and pale yellow-tinge glaze are typical features of porcelain figures made at the Dehua kilns in the late Ming period. Guanyin is the Chinese mother goddes, acredited with the ability to grant the gift of children.

Blanc de chine figure of Guanyin, the Goddes of Mercy, standing on a cloud pedestal with arms held by her sides. Originally the hands, which are now missing, would have been held together. She wears a mantilla over her hair, long flowering robes and beaded necklaces. Her feet are just visible beneath her gown. Her eyes are cast down with a benevolent expression. The deep carving of the robes and pale yellow-tinge glaze are typical features of porcelain figures made at the Dehua kilns in the late Ming period. Guanyin is the Chinese mother goddes, acredited with the ability to grant the gift of children.

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