Image of the Dragon Princess
Item No. 16395
19th Century, Buddhist, China
Wood with Polychrome
27" x 8" x 6.5"
( 68.58 x 20.32 x 16.51 cm)
(H x W x D)
Statues of Guanyin are often flanked on two attendants, Sudhana, (Shan Tsai in Chinese) on the left holding his palms joined and knees slightly bent to show that he was once crippled and the Dragon Princess (Lung Nü in Chinese) on the right holding a ball, a bowl or an ingot which represents the Pearl of Light, and with Sudhana on the left. (Click here)
In this image, the Dragon Princess stands erect on a high pedestal, holding the pearl on a ritualistic cloth which hides her hands. Her hair is pulled of her oval face and held in a top knot behind an arched head dress. She wears a two tier high collared robe with a double sash tied at the waist and draping down to the base. Much of the original pigmentation of reds, yellows and blues are in tact along with traces of lacquer on her face.
The folk legend behind the Dragon Princess was contained in the 16th century Complete Biography of Guanyin of the South Sea which described how Guanyin saved the life of one of the Dragon King’s princes who had assumed the form of a carp caught by a fisherman. Guanyin sent Sudhana to free the carp and in gratitude the Dragon King had his granddaughter, the Dragon Princess give Guanyin a night-illuminating pearl so she could read sutras after dark.
According to the Sutras, Guanyin visited the Dragon King’s palace to share her dharani. It is believed that when a person faithful chants the dharani, he or she will be saved from disasters, have a vision of Guanyin while alive and, having been freed from all sins, will not suffer rebirth in the four woeful realms of hell, and will see the Buddha and never leave his side after death. In gratitude, the Dragon King’s daughter presented Guanyin with a precious jewel of unparalleled worth.
1. Chun-fang Yu, "Kuan-yin The Chinese Transformation of Avalokitesvara," Columbia University Press, 2001, page 440.
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