Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara (Guanyin), Head

Large head of Guanyin with high headdress; lower extremities of ear lobes broken, and nose and lips repaired; fragment of statue, probably in high relief. Stand.

Historical period(s)
Northern Wei dynasty, Period of Division, 493-534
Medium
Limestone with traces of pigment
Dimensions
H x W x D (overall): 47.6 x 19.3 x 23.3 cm (18 3/4 x 7 5/8 x 9 3/16 in)
Geography
China, Henan province, Luoyang, Longmen Grottoes
Credit Line
Gift of Charles Lang Freer
Collection
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
F1913.71
On View Location
Currently not on view
Classification(s)
Sculpture, Stone
Type

Figure

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

To 1913
Yamanaka & Company, New York to 1913 [1]

From 1913 to 1919
Charles Lang Freer (1854-1919), purchased from Yamanaka & Company, New York in 1913 [2]

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

Notes:

[1] Undated folder sheet note. See Original Miscellaneous List, S.I. 423, pg. 131, 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
Yamanaka and Co. (C.L. Freer source) 1917 - 1965

Description

Large head of Guanyin with high headdress; lower extremities of ear lobes broken, and nose and lips repaired; fragment of statue, probably in high relief. Stand.

Label

This head of a bodhisattva (enlightened being) wears a crown decorated with an image of a seated Amitabha Buddha surrounded by plant leaves; jewels and a flower are at the base of the crown and a flower appears at the apex. The iconography of the crown strongly suggests this image is Guanyin, the Bodhisattva of Compassion. The style of the image is consistent with Northern Wei sculptures at the Longmen Buddhist cave-temple complex, near Luoyang, Henan Province. Beginning in 493 C.E. and lasting almost four hundred years, Chinese imperial patronage at Longmen transformed the site into a richly endowed complex with over 2,300 caves and niches in cliff walls adorned with sculptures. In the early twentieth century some sculptures and fragments were removed from Longmen and entered the international antiquities market without identification.  Scholars today are conducting research to see if the original location of these sculptures at Longmen can be determined.
This sculpture has some repair to the nose and upper lip. 

Published References
  • Chang Qing. Search and Research: The Provenance of Longmen Images in the Freer Collection. vol. 34, no. 5 Hong Kong, May 2003. p. 16, fig. 1.
Collection Area(s)
Chinese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
CC0 - Creative Commons (CC0 1.0)

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