Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara in the Water-Moon Manifestation (Shuiyue Guanyin) Artist: Unknown

1168, dated by inscription

Asian Art

On view, 2nd floor, Asian Art

The Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara, known in Chinese as Guanyin, is the embodiment of the virtue of compassion and became the most important deity in Buddhism around the sixth century C.E. Represented in different manifestations and throughout Asia, Avalokiteshvara is usually identified by a small seated Buddha depicted within his headdress. This figure’s relaxed posture and raised right leg indicate that it represents the Water-Moon (Shuiyue) avatar, one of many forms taken by this popular deity in which he is seated in his personal pure land or paradise. Known as Mount Potalaka, this perfected land was originally located on an island somewhere south of India, but in Chinese traditions, the island moved to a new location off the east coast of Zhejiang Province.


Wood with paint and gilding


65 × 36 × 27 1/2 in. (165.1 × 91.44 × 69.85 cm)

Credit Line

Gift of Winston F. C. Guest, B.A. 1927

Accession Number



Jin dynasty (1115–1234)


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 records is ongoing.



Ton-ying & Company, New York; Winston Frederick Churchill Guest, (1906–1982) New York; gift in 1956 to Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Conn.
  • Pamela Franks, Jessica Sack, and John Walsh, "Looking to Learn, Learning to Teach," in "Teaching with Art," special issue, Yale University Art Gallery Bulletin (2013), 40, fig. 2
  • Alan Priest, Chinese Sculpture in the Metropolitan Museum of Art (New York: Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1994), pl. 17
  • Elise K. Kenney, ed., Handbook of the Collections: Yale University Art Gallery (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Art Gallery, 1992), 288, ill
  • George J. Lee, Selected Far Eastern Art in the Yale University Art Gallery (New Haven, Conn.: Yale University Press, 1970), 39, no. 60, ill
  • "Additions to the Oriental Collections," Bulletin of the Associates in Fine Arts at Yale University 23, nos. 1–2 (February 1957),
  • Otto Fischer, Chinesische Plastik (Munich: Piper, 1948),
  • Ludwig Bachhofer, A Short History of Chinese Art (New York: Pantheon Books, 1946),
  • Osvald Sirén, Chinese Sculpture from the Fifth to the Fourteenth Century (London: Ernest Benn, Ltd., 1925), pl. 587
  • Sir Leigh Ashton, An Introduction to the Study of Chinese Sculpture (London: Ernest Benn, Ltd., 1924), 99
Object copyright
Additional information

Object/Work type

religious art




Carved on back: "Ta T'ing Pa Nien Wu Yueh Erh Shih Erh Jin Li" (this was erected on the 22nd day of the 5th month of the 8th year of the reign of Ta T'ing) [Dating ba nian wu yue ershier jin li]

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