Chinese Antique Wooden Figure Kuan Yin
AGE: – Qing Dynasty
CONSTRUCTION: – Wood, likely camphor wood
HEIGHT: – 31cm
DEPTH: – 13cm
WEIGHT: – 1.7kg
#119 PRICE: – CONTACT
Chinese Antique Wooden Figure Kuan Yin was more than likely placed in a shrine in a temple, or garden. The Kuan Yin is a Buddhist deity revered by followers of both the Mahayana and Taoist religion, and is also referred to as “Guan Yin”, “Goddess of Compassion” or “Bodhisattva”.
She is seen here seated in the attitude of royal ease, undercover, with a hood similar to the shape of a Naga under which the Buddha is often depicted. A bird is perched on her right and a vase is held in her left hand. The right hand holding prayer beads is resting on her right knee. The base is representative of the Kuan Yin seated in the clouds, unfortunately, deteriorated somewhat, due to exposure to the elements.
Remnants of the original colored pigments (gesso) on the body and face remain. The wood is more than likely camphor wood which is easy to carve and resistant to termites and is a wood that has been used for carvings in China for centuries. it is light and still used in carvings today. This Kuan Yin is just one of around 80 variants, typically seen in southern China and South East Asian countries where there are large Chinese communities such as Malaysia and Singapore. Kuan yin (Guanyin) literally means “One who observes the sounds or cries of the world“, and is the most revered of all deities.
Reference to Kuan Yin’s beginnings by Pitt Rivers Museum:
“The Kuan Yin according to the sutras is the female counterpart of the male Bodhisattva Avalokiteshwara, although other stories from myth and legend related to her beginnings exist. The bodhisattva originated in India around the eleventh century, as Avalokitesvara, and was reinterpreted in China and Japan in the twelfth century. Avalokitesvara was originally depicted as a man, so is often seen wearing chest-revealing clothes and possibly even a mustache.
In China, Guanyin is usually perceived as a woman, though there are many signs of masculinity and some people have seen her as a genderless being. In more modern times she has increasingly been represented as a woman, possibly due to more interaction with ‘Western’ ideas of gender and ‘Marian influences’ from Christian iconography”.
Kuan Yin symbolizes the love, pity, compassion, empathy, and kindness of an enlightened being. She is an important deity in the teachings and principles of Feng Shui, it is believed that she answers all prayers. She is sometimes seen holding a child or a vase that holds holy water to eliminate the sufferings of the poor and to free the mind from evil thoughts. The Kuan Yin is also sometimes shown holding a lotus flower.