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Chinese famille verte figure of Guanyin, Kangxi (1662-1722), in a seated medatitive pose, her green wide-sleeved robe and mantle painted with flowers, scrolling leaves, ruyi heads and a diaper ground, tasseled prayer beads around her neck and her tall chignon covered with a cowl decorated with floral crests, the base unglazed. On a pierced wooden stand.
Damage with some loss to four fingers of her right and three fingers on her left, bruise to her nose and flake to white enamel on her left earlobe, firing cracks to the back of the figure.
A similar Guanyin, on a lotus plinth, is in the collection of the Metropolitan Museum of Art (64.279.9a, b)
Guanyin is the Chinese manifestation of the Buddhist bodhisattva Avalokitesvara, who was first worshipped in India before being adopted in various locations along the Silk Road, including China from around the first century BC. The Chinese name ‘Guanyin’ is an abbreviation of ‘Guanshiuin’ ([The One Who] Perceives the Sounds of the World). The deity represents the mortal Buddha of compassion and mercy; though originally a male figure, during the Song Dynasty Guanyin began to be presented as a serene woman, and soon came to also be associated with the Holy Mother of Christian belief. The many variations, ambiguous gender and intra-religious associations of Guanyin are particularly fitting given that from a Buddhist perspective the deity appears to individuals in whatever physical form or identity is most appropriate at their time of need. Porcelain examples such as this were popular for use in small shrines; the hole on the back of the figure (called zhuangzang) would have been used to store small devotional offerings such as coins, while also serving a practical function in reducing the likelihood of cracking during firing.