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Guanyin in Lalitsana
Item No. 16491

17th - 18th Century, Buddhist, China
Wood with Pigmentation
33" x 26" x 20"
( 83.82 x 66.04 x 50.8 cm)
(H x W x D)

This magnificently carved figure of the Bodhisattva Guanyin is seated in lalitsana, royal ease The right hand points rests gracefully atop the raised right knee. The rigid left arm supports the weight of the figure and is placed behind the left leg which is bent at the knee and placed flat on the ground. She is clad in a dhoti which covers her knees in graceful folds. She wears two long celestial scarves draped over the shoulders and right arm and tied at the waist. The bare arms are adorned with bracelets at the wrist and her bare chest is adorned with jeweled necklace.

Her full face is portrayed in a composed expression, with pursed lips and downcast almond-shaped eyes beneath heavy lids half closed in meditation. The hair, arranged in neat rolls below her decoratively carved crown, is drawn up in a curled topknot with knotted tresses. . The center of her crown contains an image of the Buddha Amitabha, to whom she was a constant companion. The hair is gathered up in plaits, is centrally parted and forms a two-looped knot with two further strands descending onto each shoulder and dividing into three. In the center of her forehead is an urna , or third eye, which might have originally contained a precious jewel.

The image embodies the qualities referred to by Alistair Shearer in describing such images where enlightenment is a “state of effortless being which is mirrored in the graceful ease of Buddhist images. The origin of this aesthetic is found partly in the natural grace of the people of southern and Southeast Asia, and partly in ideals of beauty that hark back to India. These teach that the bodies of gods and teachers should be shown to radiate prana, the subtle life energy which flows unobstructed in the wise. The result is a sensualized spirituality infusing a dreamlike plasticity of form.” (1).

Buddhist statue inspire wisdom and awakening in each of us. Bodhisattvas are actually representations of the nature within ourselves since all possess within us the qualities of compassion and wisdom and these statues remind us of that. Guanyin represents Infinite Compassion, and when we see a statue of her it reminds us to apply compassion when dealing with the world, its people, and our environment.

The surface of this image has been restored with the use of chemicals to counteract some of the paint flaking, which has occured in the past and to reinforce the surfce to prevent any flaking in the future.

1) Shearer, Alistair, "Buddha, the Intelligent Heart," Thames and Hudson, 1992.

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