Bodhisattva Guanyin; 11th/12th century A.D.; Polychromed Wood; Chinese;
Shanxi Province; Liao Dynasty (A.D. 907-1125)
The Bodhisattva Guanyin, the Chinese Buddhist deity of compassion and mercy, here is seated in the posture of royal ease on a simulated outcropping of craggy, perforated rock. The position of the Guanyin conveys the impression that the Bodhisattva might at any moment awake from a state of deep contemplation and step down from the carved lotus rest. The Bodhisattva's worldly ornaments, such as the high tiara and rich necklaces in sumptuous detail, contrast with the more plain image of the Buddha, whose markings indicate ethereal status. The soft skin, contour of the of the body, and beguiling charm of the smile create an aura of pathos.