Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara (Guanyin)

Standing Bodhisattva Lotus holder Guanyin in relief against a flaming “mandorla;” inscription of 32 characters incised on four-legged base.
Bronze gilded and much worn.

Historical period(s)
Northern Wei dynasty, Period of Division, 453
Bronze with gilding
H x W x D: 23 x 11.9 x 6.8 cm (9 1/16 x 4 11/16 x 2 11/16 in)
China, Hebei province, Quyang
Credit Line
Gift of Charles Lang Freer
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
On View Location
Freer Gallery 17: Promise of Paradise: Ancient Chinese Buddhist Sculpture
Metalwork, Sculpture


bodhisattva, Buddhism, casting, China, gilding, Guanyin, mandorla, Northern Wei dynasty (386 - 534), Period of Division (220 - 589)

To 1909
Meh Tuh Kee, Shanghai, to 1909 [1]

From 1909 to 1919
Charles Lang Freer (1854-1919), purchased from Meh Tuh Kee, Shanghai, in 1909 [2]

From 1920
Freer Gallery of Art, gift of Charles Lang Freer in 1920 [3]


[1] See Original Bronze List, S.I. 98, Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives.

[2] See note 1.

[3] The original deed of Charles Lang Freer's gift was signed in 1906. The collection was received in 1920 upon the completion of the Freer Gallery.

Previous Owner(s) and Custodian(s)

Meh Tuh Kee (C.L. Freer source)
Charles Lang Freer 1854-1919


Standing Bodhisattva Lotus holder Guanyin in relief against a flaming "mandorla;" inscription of 32 characters incised on four-legged base.
Bronze gilded and much worn.


(H.C. Lovell, 1974) The inscription reads: "Ta Wei Hsing-an erh-nien sui tsai kuei-ssu Chu-lu hsia Ch'u-yang ch'ing-hsin-nu Chao Lu-yuan wai mang tsu-fu mu ching tsao Kuan-Shih yin hsian" [Chn]
It can be rendered: "In the second year of Hsing-an of the Great Wei Dynasty [A.D. 453], cycle "kuei-ssu," Buddhist Chao Lu-yuan (woman) of Ch'u-yang, in the proximity of Chu-lu, respectfully had this image of Kuan-yin made for her deceased grandparents."
(See Curatorial Remark number 6)

The inscription reads: [Chn]
"Dai Wei Xingan ernian sui zai guisi Julu xia Quyang qingxin nu Zhao Luyuan wei wang zufumu jing zao Guanshiyin xiang" which can be translated: "Great Wei Dynasty, Xingan era second year (453 A.D.), year cycle guisi, the female believer Zhao Luyuan of Quyang, near Julu (present day Hebei), for the sake of her deceased grandparents respectfully had this image of Guanshiyin made."
(See Curatorial Remark number 8)

方座的右侧刻有铭文题记曰: transcription by Chang Qing


Published References
  • Marylin M. Rhie. The Earliest Chinese Bronze Bodhisattva Sculptures. vol. 25, no. 2 Hong Kong, March - April 1995. pp. 86-97, figs. 18-19.
  • , Li Song, Wu Hung, Yang Hong. Chinese Sculpture. The Culture & Civilization of China New Haven. p. 252, fig. 3.56.
  • Hugo Munsterberg. Buddhist Bronzes of the Six Dynasties Period. vol. 9, no. 4 Washington and Zurich. p. 290, pl. 5.
Collection Area(s)
Chinese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
CC0 - Creative Commons (CC0 1.0)

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