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Image credit: © Phoenix Art Museum. All rights reserved. Photo by Ken Howie.
Unknown, China

Bodhisattva Guanyin
Ming dynasty
wood with traces of paint
Credit Line:
Collection Phoenix Art Museum, Gift of Joseph E. Refsnes
Object Number:
On view status (subject to change):
Not on view
Description: In Buddhism, a Bodhisattva is an enlightened being who denies himself the attainment of nirvana, or freedom from the cycle of birth, death and rebirth, in order to help all other beings. Guanyin, a shortened version of the name Guanshiyin, means "the hearer of the sounds of the world" and refers to this Bodhisattva's all-powerful capacity to observe human life and answer the prayers of the suffering. Through enlightenment, Bodhisattvas transcend gender differentiation, and thus they are often depicted with a blend of masculine and feminine traits that represent their perfected human character. Here, Guanyin is shown in a more feminine form, with a delicate, introspective face and slender, graceful body and hands. The flowing garments, crown and jewels emulate the princely dress of the Indian prince Siddhartha, who became the Buddha.
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Beverly Adams, Janet Baker, James K. Ballinger, Michael K. Komanecky, Dennita Sewell, David Rubin, Brady Roberts, Claudia Brown, Betsy Fahlman, Ellwood C. Parry, Paula Kornegay, Jerry N. Smith, Mary Statzer, Jeanne M. Wudell, Brian J. Zygmont, "Phoenix Art Museum: Collection Highlights"

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