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

1168, dated by inscription

Wood with paint and gilding

65 × 36 × 27 1/2 in. (165.1 × 91.44 × 69.85 cm)
Gift of Winston F. C. Guest, B.A. 1927
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.
On view
Jin dynasty (1115–1234)

Ton-ying & Company, New York; Winston Frederick Churchill Guest, (1906–1982) New York; gift in 1956 to Yale University Art Gallery, New Haven, Conn.


Handbook of the Collections, exh. cat. (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.

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.

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

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).

Pamela Franks, Jessica Sack, and John Walsh, “Looking to Learn, Learning to Teach,” Yale University Art Gallery Bulletin (2013): 40, fig. 2.

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

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.