Description & Technical information

European or Chinese Market

A Chinese biscuit porcelain model of Guanyin seated on a lotus throne, painted in green, yellow, aubergine and black enamels on the biscuit, the figure on a hexagonal section stand with a pierced balustrade.

Guanyin is the Chinese Buddhist deity equivalent to the Indian bodhisattva Avalokitesvara. He first appears in Chinese texts in the late Han as a male deity, but sometime during the Song dynasty he switches to more female characteristics and is frequently of indeterminate gender. He is the God of Compassion, his name meaning ‘listening to the Cries of the World’. He is a very popular figure in Chinese art from the Tang to the Qing, and because he represents purity, his symbolic attribute is the lotus. The pearl necklace is a symbol of royalty in Indian Buddhism and is retained in the Chinese depictions.

In export art, he is often seen with a small child in an echo of the Madonna and Child of Roman Catholic imagery; the common veneration of these images in the Philippines is an example of religious syncretism. In Edo-period Japan, when Christianity was persecuted, statues of ‘Kannon’ with a child were secretly venerated by Christians as the Virgin and Child, often with a crucifix concealed inside. Some figures of Guanyin are also recorded with a crucifix and rosary around the neck.

Date:  Kangxi period circa 1720
Period:  1600-1750, 18th century
Origin:  China
Medium: porcelain
Dimensions: 37 cm (14⁵/₈ inches)
Categories: Oriental and Asian Art