Asian Art

Seated Guanyin

1168, dated by inscription

Wood and polychrome with gilt

65 x 36 x 27 1/2 in. (165.1 x 91.44 x 69.85 cm)
Gift of Winston F.C. Guest, B.A. 1927
After a period of great prosperity in the seventh and eighth centuries C.E., the Buddhist church in China suffered a major persecution by rulers in the mid-ninth century. Subsequently, perhaps as a response, belief in the bodhisattva Avalokitesvara, known in Chinese as Guanyin, began to spread. In the process, this originally male, Indian deity was transformed into a female, Chinese bodhisattva. This image shows this transformation in process; dressed as a prince with a long scarf and heavy jewelry, Guanyin is somewhat feminine in appearance. He is seated on a rocky pedestal meant to represent his island home, Mount Potalaka.
Jin dynasty (1115–1234)
On view*

Sir Leigh Ashton, An Introduction to the Study of Chinese Sculpture (London: Ernest Benn, Ltd., 1924), 99.

Osvald Sirén, Chinese Sculpture from the Fifth to the Fourteenth Century (London: Ernest Benn, Ltd., 1925), pl. 587.

Ludwig Bachhofer, A Short History of Chinese Art (New York: Pantheon Books, 1946).

Otto Fischer, Chinesische Plastik (Munich: Piper, 1948).

“Additions to the Oriental Collections,” Bulletin of the Associates in Fine Arts at Yale University 23, nos. 1–2 (February 1957).

George J. Lee, Selected Far Eastern Art in the Yale University Art Gallery (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1970), 39, no. 60, ill.

Alan Shestack, ed., Yale University Art Gallery Selections (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 1983), 96–97, ill.

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

Alan Priest, Chinese Sculpture in the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York: The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1994), pl. 17.

“Looking to Learn, Learning to Teach,” Yale University Art Gallery Bulletin (2013): 40, fig. 2.

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.

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