Gilt Bronze Figure Guanyin
China, Ming dynasty, 17th Century
Height: 32 cm.
A Gilt Bronze Figure of Guanyin. The bodhisattva Avalokitesvara is shown seated in padmasana on a blossoming lotus base, crowned with an ornate headdress, the face with serene expression with the hands gently raised in front of the chest holding a young child.
Guanyin, Guan Yin or Kuan Yin (/ˌɡwɑːnˈjɪn/) (traditional Chinese: 觀音; simplified Chinese: 观音; pinyin: Guānyīn) is the Buddhist bodhisattva associated with compassion. She is the East Asian equivalent of Avalokiteśvara (Sanskrit: अवलोकितेश्वर) and has been adopted by other Eastern religions including Chinese folk religion. [note 1] She was first given the appellation of “goddess of mercy” or the “mercy goddess” by Jesuit missionaries in China. The Chinese name Guanyin is short for Guanshiyin, which means “[The One Who] Perceives the Sounds of the World.” On the 19th day of the sixth lunar month, Guan Shi Yin’s attainment of Buddhahood is celebrated
Some Buddhists believe that when one of their adherents departs from this world, they are placed by Guanyin in the heart of a lotus, and then sent to the western pure land of Sukhāvatī. Guanyin is often referred to as the “most widely beloved Buddhist Divinity” with miraculous powers to assist all those who pray to her, as is said in the Lotus Sutra and Kāraṇḍavyūha Sūtra.
Several large temples in East Asia are dedicated to Guanyin including Shaolin Monastery, Longxing Temple, Puning Temple, Nanhai Guanyin Temple, Dharma Drum Mountain, Kwan Im Thong Hood Cho Temple, Shitennō-ji, Sensō-ji, Kiyomizu-dera, Sanjūsangen-dō, and many others. Guanyin’s abode and bodhimaṇḍa in India is recorded as being on Mount Potalaka. With the localization of the belief in Guanyin, each area adopted their own Potalaka. In China, Mount Putuo is considered the bodhimaṇḍa of Guanyin. Naksansa is considered to be the Potalaka of Guanyin in Korea. Japan’s Potalaka is located at Fudarakusan-ji. Tibet’s Potalaka is the Potala Palace
There are several pilgrimage centers for Guanyin in East Asia. Putuoshan is the main pilgrimage site in China. There is a 33 temple Guanyin pilgrimage in Korea which includes Naksansa. In Japan, there are several pilgrimages associated with Guanyin. The oldest one of them is the Saigoku Kannon Pilgrimage, a pilgrimage through 33 temples with Guanyin shrines. Guanyin is beloved by all Buddhist traditions in a nondenominational way and found in most Tibetan temples under the name Chenrézik (Wylie: Spyan ras gzigs). Guanyin is also beloved and worshipped in the temples in Nepal. The Hiranya Varna Mahavihar located in Patan is one example. Guanyin is also found in some influential Theravada temples such as Gangaramaya Temple, Kelaniya and Natha Devale nearby Temple of the Tooth in Sri Lanka; Guanyin can also be found in Thailand’s Temple of the Emerald Buddha, Wat Huay Pla Kang (where the huge statue of her is often mistakenly called the “Big Buddha”) and Burma’s Shwedagon Pagoda. Statues of Guanyin are a widely depicted subject of Asian art and found in the Asian art sections of most museums in the world
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