Not currently on display at the V&A

Guanyin

Figure
ca. 1620-1720 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

Guanyin, the Goddess of Compassion, is one of the most popular Buddhist deities in China. Her figure originated in India as the male bodhisattva Avalokitesvara; after the introduction of Buddhism in China, he was transformed into a female deity associated with the virtues of compassion and mercy. Guanyin was also worshipped in China as the patron of fishermen, and by women as the goddess 'bringer of sons'.

This porcelain figure of Guanyin was made at the kilns of Dehua in Fujian province, south-east China. Dehua was the second largest producer of ceramics, including export ware, after Jingdezhen. The goddess is here represented as the 'bringer of sons' with a baby on her lap and two children at the sides of her throne, but also as a protector of fishermen with two water dragons and waves at her feet. This kind of figures were usually placed on household altars and worshipped as devotional images. By the late 17th century they were also exported to Europe, where the body and colour of the Dehua ware, also known as 'blanc de Chine', were much admired.


object details
Categories
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Moulded porcelain
Brief Description
Porcelain figure of Guanyin, Dehua ware, China, ca.1620-1720
Physical Description
Porcelain figure of Guanyin, wearing a long draped robe, a diadem on the head and jewellery around the neck, seated on a throne with the right leg bent and holding a baby on her lap; two small boys stand at the sides of the throne and two water dragons among waves are depicted beneath the throne.
Dimensions
  • Height: 38cm
Styles
Gallery Label
The Bodhisattva Guanyin In her role as 'the bringer of sons' with small boys and sea dragons. Moulded white porcelain Dehua kilns About 1620-1720.(1987)
Subjects depicted
Summary
Guanyin, the Goddess of Compassion, is one of the most popular Buddhist deities in China. Her figure originated in India as the male bodhisattva Avalokitesvara; after the introduction of Buddhism in China, he was transformed into a female deity associated with the virtues of compassion and mercy. Guanyin was also worshipped in China as the patron of fishermen, and by women as the goddess 'bringer of sons'.



This porcelain figure of Guanyin was made at the kilns of Dehua in Fujian province, south-east China. Dehua was the second largest producer of ceramics, including export ware, after Jingdezhen. The goddess is here represented as the 'bringer of sons' with a baby on her lap and two children at the sides of her throne, but also as a protector of fishermen with two water dragons and waves at her feet. This kind of figures were usually placed on household altars and worshipped as devotional images. By the late 17th century they were also exported to Europe, where the body and colour of the Dehua ware, also known as 'blanc de Chine', were much admired.
Bibliographic Reference
Clunas, Craig (ed.). Chinese Export Art and Design. London: Victoria and Albert Museum, 1987, p. 48, fig. 32.
Collection
Accession Number
19-1886

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record createdOctober 2, 2008
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