Chinese stone figure of Guanyin

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Liao/ Song Dynasty (907-1279)
96.5 cm

Formerly in an Italian private collection

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Shown seated in dhyanasana, dressed in long flowing robes open at the chest revealing a beaded necklace suspended with multiple tassels and hanging loosely in crisp folds over the edge of a rectangular pedestal. The serene face has downcast eyes, and is surmounted by a high elaborate diadem centred with a figure of Amitabha Buddha emerging from blossoming lotus, the hands in dhyanamudra holding a bowl with offerings. With traces of polychrome pigments.

The features characterising the present figure, such as the slender body and the tall triple-leafed diadem, share similarities with the painted clay statuary modelled during the Liao dynasty. See for instance, a clay figure of a bodhisattva in the Lower Huansi Temple in Datong, Shanxi Province, dated to 1038. Crowns constituted one of the most important status symbols to the foreign Khitan founders of the Liao dynasty. The fact that, during this time, similar crowns were worn by both the Buddhist images and the Khitan ruling elites, would seem to reflect an interchange of roles already common during the Tang dynasty. 


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