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Bodhisattva Guanyin
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Bodhisattva Guanyin


Description Conservation Provenance Credit
Description Guanyin is a bodhisattva, a divine being who has attained enlightenment but chooses to stay in the world to help others. Guanyin (an abbreviation of Guanshiyin: “Perceiver of the World’s Sounds”) responds to the calls of those in peril." Here, Guanyin sits in an attitude of tranquil ease, an arm resting on one knee while gazing at the moon’s reflection in the water below; the bodhisattva’s rippling garments puddle downward in a seemingly liquid cascade. In China, devotion to Guanyin, who came to be represented as an androgynous or female being, was popularized through sacred texts (sutras), miracle tales, and legends by which the deity became associated with natural elements, such as water and the moon, that evoke themes of impermanence and change. The sculpture is a technical marvel. The entire figure, down to the slender fingers, is hollow and made in a technique similar to papier-mâché. Layers of cloth soaked in lacquer, derived from a tree resin, were wrapped over an internal clay support that was removed after the lacquer had hardened. X-radiography shows that the hollow interior was covered in a pigment containing red mercury, called cinnabar, that may have had both sacred and preservative functions.
Conservation
Date Description Narrative
11/07/2006Treatmentcleaned; other
11/07/2006Treatmentcleaned; loss compensation; other
1/10/2007Treatmentcleaned; loss compensation; other
9/07/2017Treatmentstabilized
Provenance C.T. Loo & Co., Paris; purchased by Doris Duke, October 7 1937; Doris Duke Charitable Foundation; given to Walters Art Museum, 2006.
Credit Gift of the Doris Duke Charitable Foundation's Southeast Asian Art Collection, 2006

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Creator
Period
late 14th-15th century (Ming)
Medium
dry lacquer, gold, and paint
(Sculpture)
Accession Number
25.256
Measurements
H: 50 x W: 34 1/4 x D: 22 5/8 in. (127 x 87 x 57.5 cm)
Geographies
  • China (Place of Origin)

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