The bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara is shown standing on a lotus plinth rising from a four-legged platform, his right hand raisedin tribangha and a kamandalu ('holy water' bottle) pendent from the left hand. He is wearing a crown centered by a figure of Amitabha Buddha, and his head is surrounded by an aureole inscribed with flames, at the top of which another image of the Buddha emerges. This figure dates from the Northern Wei dynasty (6th century CE), and it’s remarkabe for the way in which, despite its small size, it conveys all the aspects of the bodhisattva quite clearly. It embodies the more severe aspects of early Buddhist iconography, which by the Tang period would become softened and more luxuriant. In the process, of course, Avalokiteshvara would be transformed into Guanyin.
Height: 6.2 cm.
Condition: Excellent; most of the original gilding remains; there is a small drilled hole in the platform to the right of the figure, which would have been used to attach it to a wooden base.