Museum Practice

Artist Unknown, 1147--72 "All Victorious" Guanyin Bodhisattva China, Yunnan province Size: 9 1/4 in. x 4 11/16 in. x 2 5/8 in. (48.9 cm x 11.91 cm x 6.67 cm)

Buddhist sculptures from southwestern China, like this example in the Museum's collection, are exceptionally rare, especially when datable by inscription. The graceful standing figure can be identified as Guanyin, the bodhisattva of compassion, because of the figure of the Buddha Amitabha in the crown. 

The character "Da" has been carved on each foot, which indicates that it was made for the royal family of the Dali Kingdom. The extensive inscription on the back of the garment reveals that the Emperor Duan Zhengxing paid for this sculpture to be made for his sons, to ensure their prosperity and the continuation of the family line. It is interesting to note that no esoteric or philosophical ideas of Buddhism were invoked by these patrons.


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