17th / 18th century
Early Qing Dynasty
Dehua porcelain with clear glaze
H: 27.4 cm, W: 15 cm
From a Paris, France private collection
A rare and beautifully modeled blanc de chine Guanyin, with the yellowish clear glaze and dewey porcelain body typical of 17th/18th century Dehua white wares. As per the early Qing tradition, this Guanyin's face is round and heavyset, evoking earlier images of the Guanyin as an androgynous figure. The complex form of this statue includes a rocky plinth, an attendant boy, a vase, and prayer beads etc.
In the west, Guanyin is mostly translated as a “goddess of mercy.” In the context of East Asian Buddhism, Guanyin is indeed a Bodhisattva associated with compassion. However, the Chinese characters that make up “Guanyin” specifically means “observer of sounds” (guan = observe; yin = sounds), conveying the belief that Guanyin is a listener of suffering sounds, and thus a tenderer of the world’s troubles. For this reason, most depictions of Guanyin in Chinese art feature the Bodhisattva looking downward, as if to watch over the mortal realms. This statue is no exception: the guanyin's eyes are gently downcast, in a position of observation.
There is a similar Guanyin (in shape and in age) in the Victoria & Albert Museum (see last photo).
Condition report: small chips and losses to extremities: loss of fingers to right hand, chip to scroll, tip of two fingers in left hand missing, losses to sash on boy, etc. Overall very good antique condition without hairlines or major flaws. [Please view all photos carefully. The images accompanying this lot is part of the condition report.]