Guanyin thumbnail 1
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Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Ceramics, Room 145

Guanyin

Figure of Guanyin
1620-1700 (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 as her disciples standing at the sides of the 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 in China. 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
Porcelain with clear glaze
Brief Description
Dehua ware. Figure of Guanyin, white porcelain, China, Qing dynasty, late 17th-early 18th century
Physical Description
Porcelain figure of Guanyin, seated on a rocky throne above waves and with small figures of two acolytes standing at either side. She supports a child holding a lotus stalk on her right knee, and is dressed in voluminous robes with a cowl. On a rocky shelf to her left is a bundle of scrolls; the attribute to her right is missing, and restored as an identical bundle. The figure is hollow, and rather translucent. The porcelain is of a cream white tint.
Dimensions
  • Height: 22.7cm
Styles
Gallery Label
Guanyin, goddess of mercy, with disciples China, Dehua, 1620–1700 Museum no. FE.20-1970. Dame Ada MacNaghten Bequest(September 2009)
Credit line
Bequeathed by Dame Ada MacNaghten
Production
Register
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 as her disciples standing at the sides of the 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 in China. 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
Kerr, Rose and Luisa E. Mengoni Chinese Export Ceramics London: V&A Publishing, 2011, p.126, pl.180
Collection
Accession Number
FE.20-1970

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record createdJanuary 8, 2009
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