Guanyin of the Water Moon

citation

Historical period(s)
Northern Song dynasty, 968
Medium
Ink and color on silk
Dimensions
H x W (image): 106.8 x 58.9 cm (42 1/16 x 23 3/16 in)
Geography
China, Dunhuang
Credit Line
Purchase — Charles Lang Freer Endowment
Accession Number
F1930.36
On View Location
Currently not on view
Classification(s)
Painting
Type

Hanging scroll (mounted on panel)

Keywords
Amitabha Buddha, Buddhism, China, Guanyin, halo, kalasa, kundika, mandorla, moon, Northern Song dynasty (960 - 1127)
Provenance

1930
Yamanaka and Company, New York, New York 1930 [1]

From 1930
Freer Gallery of Art, purchased from Yamanaka and Company, New York in 1930 [2]

Notes:

[1] Object file, undated folder sheet. Also see Freer Gallery of Art Purchase List file, Collections Management Office.

[2] See note 1.

Previous Owner(s)

Yamanaka and Co.

Label

Encircled by a flaming halo, this majestic bodhisattva, or enlightened being worshipped in Buddhism, sits cross-legged on a lotus throne. Both the inscription and various attributes, such as the flask and willow branch and the small image of a seated Buddha in the headdress, identify the central figure as that of Guanyin, the Bodhisattva of Compassion, deliverer from misery. In the Chinese context, Guanyin is generally more familiar from later representations, in which the bodhisattva is presented in female guise. In this earlier Central Asian depiction, however--with its facial hair and bare, flat chest--the deity retains the masculine traits and gender identity of its original Indian manifestation.
The chief of four donors in the lower register is the male figure at right, a member of the Cao family, which at the time ruled the independent kingdom of Shazhou. That kingdom was centered on the oasis of Dunhuang, in modern Gansu Province, located near the eastern edge of the Takla Makan Desert and astride the economically and strategically important Silk Route. In the early years of the twentieth century, a large cache of painted scrolls and documents of various kinds was discovered at the famous Buddhist cave complex at Dunhuang. This scroll is one of the first and best-documented paintings to emerge from that important discovery.

To learn more about this and similar objects, visit http://www.asia.si.edu/SongYuan/default.asp Song and Yuan Dynasty Painting and Calligraphy.

Collection Area(s)
Chinese Art
Web Resources
Song and Yuan Dynasty Painting and Calligraphy
Google Cultural Institute
Rights Statement

Copyright with museum