Goddess of Mercy, Guanyin
Media: painted wood
Size: 125.0 cm
Acquired: 1945; Gift; Lord Davies
Accession Number: NMW A 405
Guanyin is a Bodhisattva, or Buddhist deity. Bodhisattvas have obtained enlightenment, but have chosen to remain among men to help them reach nirvana. By the tenth century AD, Guanyin , who represented compassion, was probably the most popular figure in Chinese Buddhism. Increasingly seen as having magical powers, and associated with Taoist legends and the tutelary goddesses of popular religion, the deity was often portrayed in a female aspect, as here, by the Ming period.
This figure was probably made in the Northern Chinese province of Shanxi, where Buddhist art developed specifically Chinese characteristics by the twelth century. It has been repaired and repainted several times, but it was originally meant to look like gilded bronze. One of the many Chinese wood sculptures on the London art market in the 1930s, it was aquired by the brother of Gwendoline and Margaret Davies.