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Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara – Guanyin

Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara - Guanyin - - Joy of Museums - Asian Art Museum - San Francisco

This wooden statue of Avalokiteśvara is a bodhisattva who embodies the compassion of all Buddhas. Seated in a position of the “royal ease” with the right hand resting on a bent right knee and the left hand in the gift-granting gesture. The image is dressed as an Indian prince with long and fluid garments; and with sashes, scarves and jewels.

Bodhisattvas are a popular subject in Buddhist art and are variably depicted, described and portrayed in different cultures as either female or male. In Chinese Buddhism, Avalokiteśvara has become the somewhat different female figure Guanyin. Guanyin is an East Asian bodhisattva commonly known as the “Goddess of Mercy” in English. The Chinese name Guanyin is short for Guanshiyin, meaning “[The One Who] Perceives the Sounds of the World”.

Essential Facts:

  • Title:                 Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara – Guanyin
  • Chinese:           觀世音,  观世音
  • Burmese:         ကွမ်ယင်မယ်တော်
  • Vietnamese:    Quan Âm
  • Thai:                  กวนอิม
  • Dates:               960 – 1279
  • Provenience:  China
  • Period:             Song Dynasty (960 – 1279)
  • Materials:        Wood
  • Museum:         Asian Art Museum – San Francisco


“A smile will gain you ten more years of life.”
Chinese Proverb



Photo Credit: Joyofmuseums