Asian Art
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Photo credit: Yale University Art Gallery
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Photo credit: Yale University Art Gallery
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Photo credit: Yale University Art Gallery

Seated Guanyin

11th–12th century

Gray limestone with traces of pigment

17 1/2 x 12 x 9 in. (44.5 x 30.5 x 22.9 cm)
Gift of the Associates in Fine Arts

By the late ninth century, the bodhisattva Avalokitesvara, known in Chinese as Guanyin, had risen to prominence in China as a deity promising salvation. In the process, this male, Indian deity was transformed into a female, Chinese bodhisattva. This sculpture of a seated Guanyin, dating from the eleventh or twelfth century, shows the beginnings of the bodhisattva’s transformation into a female. The figure is seated on a platform, in a position known as “royal ease,” and is dressed in princely garb, with jewelry, a low skirt, and a sash hanging from the shoulders. Small animals appear in niches on either side of the sculpture, presumably reflecting Guanyin’s role as the “savior of all sentient beings.”

Liao (907–1125) or Jin (1115–1234) dynasty
Not on view

Yamanaka, New York


Associates in Fine Arts, Yale University, “Handbook: A Description of the Gallery of Fine Arts and the Collections,” Bulletin of the Associates in Fine Arts at Yale University 5, nos. 1–3 (1931).

Osvald Sirén, “Chinese Sculptures of the Sung, Liao and Chin Dynasties,” Bulletin of the Museum of Far Eastern Antiquities 14 (1942): 45–64, pl. 6:1.

Osvald Sirén, “The Chinese Marble Bust in the Rietberg Museum,” Artibus Asiae 25, no. 1 (1962): 15, fig. 8.

George J. Lee, Selected Far Eastern Art in the Yale University Art Gallery (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1970), 204, no. 410, ill.

Mimi Gardner Gates, The Communion of Scholars: Chinese Art at Yale, exh. cat. (New York: China House Gallery, 1982), 57–58, no. 21, ill.

Handbook of the Collections, exh. cat. (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 1992), 288, ill.

Susan B. Matheson, Art for Yale: A History of the Yale University Art Gallery (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 2001), 77, 79, fig. 66.

Note: This electronic record was created from historic documentation that does not necessarily reflect the Yale University Art Gallery’s complete or current knowledge about the object. Review and updating of such records is ongoing.