CATALOGUE NUMBER 1564
FAMILLE VERTE BISCUIT FIGURE
KANGXI PERIOD (1661-1722)
Height: 10 inches
Ralph M. Chait Galleries, New York
By far one of the most popular deities in China, Guanyin
is commonly assumed to have originated from the Indian Bodhisattva Avalokitesvara. The word 'Guanshiyin’ translates roughly to ‘one who observes the sounds
of the world’ which relates closely to the meaning of Avalokitesvara. The deity is associated with compassion and mercy; traits viewed by the Chinese as more feminine than masculine. This provided the impetus for the deity’s gradual representational evolution from male to female which was a slow and ambiguous transition. Tang dynasty figures show a feminine sensuality but the deity is still primarily male. It was not until the deity had been appropriated and merged with local and regional feminine deities; protectors and ‘givers’ of children, protectors of fisherman, that Guanyin turns definitively female. The present figure, with a feminine graceful stance, elaborate coiffure and elegant attire still reveals a bare flat chest that recalls the deity’s earlier form.
Text and images on this page appear courtesy of
Sotheby's New York and are excerpted from:
Sotheby's New York. Embracing Classic Chinese Culture:
Kangxi Porcelain from the Jie Rui Tang Collection.
March 14, 2014, p. 55. [exhibition catalog].