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Chinese bronze figure of Avalokiteshvara, Ming dynasty (1368-1626), seated in dhyanasana holding a cup in the left hand, dressed in flowing robes and wearing elaborate jewellery, the figure's face with downcast eyes, the hair in knotted plaits and topknot, the elaborate tiara centred by a figure of Amitabha Buddha.
Enlightened, compassionate bodhisattvas can be distinguished by their flowing robes, jewels and crowns. Such finery link them to Indian royalty of ancient times, thus emphasising the Bodhisattva’s decision to remain in the mortal world. The crown identifies this example as Avalokiteshvara, the earthly manifestation of the self-born eternal Buddha Amitabha , whose image is contained within the centre of the headpiece. He guards the world in the interval between the departure of the historical Buddha (Gautama) and the appearance of the future Buddha (Maitreya). Worship of Avalokiteshvara became popular in China from the fourth century, where his cult spread largely due to his reported ability to appear to those in need, should they recite his name.