Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara (Guanyin) with 11 heads

High relief carving of Guanyin of Eleven Heads standing on a lotus pedestal set within a recessed niche, which is decorated with two flying celestial beings, or apsaras. In relief within a recess. Color, gray, with gray-brown patina. Limestone.

Historical period(s)
Tang dynasty, 703
Medium
Limestone
Dimensions
H x W x D: 108.8 x 31.7 x 15.3 cm (42 13/16 x 12 1/2 x 6 in)
Geography
China, Shaanxi province, Xi'an, Guangzhai Temple, Qibaotai Pagoda
Credit Line
Gift of Charles Lang Freer
Collection
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
F1909.98
On View Location
Freer Gallery 17: Promise of Paradise: Ancient Chinese Buddhist Sculpture
Classification(s)
Sculpture, Stone
Type

Figure

Keywords
Buddhism, China, Guanyin, lotus, Tang dynasty (618 - 907)
Provenance

To 1909
Bunkio Matsuki (1867-1940), Boston, to 1909 [1]

From 1909 to 1919
Charles Lang Freer (1854-1919), purchased from Bunkio Matsuki in Japan 1909 [2]

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

Notes:

[1] Undated folder sheet note. See Original Miscellaneous List, S.I. 137, pg. 53, 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)

Charles Lang Freer 1854-1919
Bunkio Matsuki (C.L. Freer source) 1867-1940

Description

High relief carving of Guanyin of Eleven Heads standing on a lotus pedestal set within a recessed niche, which is decorated with two flying celestial beings, or apsaras. In relief within a recess. Color, gray, with gray-brown patina. Limestone.

Label

Esoteric (Vahrayana) Buddhism employs rituals and magic spells and features multiheaded and multiarmed deities.  This form of Buddhism was popular in China during the Tang dynasty (618–907), when this image of Guanyin, the Bodhisattva of Compassion, was made under imperial patronage.  Eleven heads represent the stages of enlightenment.  The sensuous sculptural style reflects Indian influence.  This sculpture adorned the Seven Jewels Pagoda that was built in the Tang capital (modern day Xi'an).

Published References
  • Onishi Junko. The Activities of Hayasaki Kokichi: Focusing on Chinese Sculptures Collected by Okakura Kakuzo in Museum of Fine Arts, Boston. no. 656 Tokyo. .
  • Chuan-ying Yen. The Tower of Seven Jewels and Empress Wu. vol. 22, no. 1 Taipei, March/April 1987. .
  • Chugoku bijutsu [Chinese Art in Western Collections]. 5 vols., Tokyo, 1972-1973. vol. 3: pl. 61.
  • Osvald Siren. Chinese Sculpture from the Fifth to the Fourteenth Century: Over 900 Specimens in Stone, Bronze, Lacquer and Wood, Principally from Northern China. 4 vols., London. vol. 3: pl. 392A.
  • Dr. John Alexander Pope, Thomas Lawton, Harold P. Stern. The Freer Gallery of Art. 2 vols., Washington and Tokyo, 1971-1972. cat. 82, vol. 1: p. 173.
  • Masterpieces of Chinese and Japanese Art: Freer Gallery of Art handbook. Washington, 1976. p. 42.
  • Martha Davidson. Great Chinese Sculpture in America. 1939 Annual, vol. 37, no. 22 New York. pp. 71-94, 174-176, fig. 36.
  • Paths to Perfection, Buddhist Art at the Freer/Sackler. Washington. pp. 80-81.
  • Thomas Lawton, Linda Merrill. Freer: a legacy of art. Washington and New York, 1993. p. 110, fig. 73.
  • Thomas Lawton. China's Artistic Legacy. vol. 118, no. 258 London, August 1983. p. 132.
  • Saburo Matsubara. Chinese Buddhist Sculpture [Chugoku Bukkyo chokokushi kenkyu]: A Study Based on Bronze and Stone Statues other than Works from Cave Temples. Tokyo, 1961-1971. p. 186, fig. 155.
  • , Li Song, Wu Hung, Yang Hong. Chinese Sculpture. The Culture & Civilization of China New Haven. p. 307, fig. 3-113.
Collection Area(s)
Chinese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
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