Title:Seated Kuan-yinArtist:Artist UnknownDate:Southern Sung dynastyCreation Place:Asia, ChinaCredit Line:Gift of Ruth and Bruce DaytonAccession Number:99.24.2
The supreme sculptural representation of the bodhisattva Kuan-yin during late Sung was "Kuan-yin of the Southern Seas" or the "Water Moon Kuan-yin." The subject is taken from the Gandavyuha chapter of the Avatamsaka sutra in which Kuan-yin is visited on Mount Potalaka (in the southern seas) and found sitting before a rocky grotto watching the reflection of the moon in the water and meditating on the illusionary nature of existence. With this theme, the bodhisattva is typically portrayed in the posture of "royal ease" (maharajalilasana) seated informally upon a rockwork pedestal representing Mount Potalaka's craggy shore. Kuan-yin's expression is serene, with eyes half-closed in meditation; a carved openwork crown with a seated image of the Buddha Amitaba at its center rests upon the bodhisattva's head. The figure is ornately dressed with a dhoti skirt, silk scarves, a profusion of jewelry, elaborate hair, and a high headdress.