Antique Ming Songzi Guanyin, Bestower of Children, China (16057BAK)
H: 10.5” W: 5.25” D: 4.375” | FREE SHIPPING
This very rare and fine 16th century home shrine image displays the benign and compassionate countenance of Songzi Guanyin the “Giver of Children.” She traditionally holds a male child in her lap facing out to her devotees to assure assistance to the hopeful parents to become pregnant, protect the mother’s pregnancy and the child after birth. She leans slightly forward, with delicate facial features with a sweet smile, wears a 5- lobed crown centered with a camellia flower a Chinese symbol of young sons and daughters. With round face and joyful half-closed and eyes, she looks lovingly at the child whose arm is draped over hers.
Of Guanyin’n 33 manifestations, Songzi Guanyin was one of the most favored during the Ming and Qing dynasties when small images were placed on a home altar for veneration by families desirous of having a male child to carry on the family legacy. Songzi Guanyin is a syncretic goddess, embraced in Buddhism, Taoism and Popular Religion and especially by women who sought salvation in her non- judgmental compassion extended to all people regardless of status, a characteristic of the Great Chinese Goddesses (Irvin). In Mahayana Buddhism, she was portrayed as a female in accordance with Confucian beliefs that women should seek comfort and solace only from a female deity, especially regarding requests for children, protection of the mother and child during child birth and for protection after birth. Initially, Child-giving Guanyin was not depicted holding a child, but during the 16th–18th centuries, missionaries and Jesuits commissioned Chinese artisans to fashion images of the Madonna and Child, and images of Child Giving Guanyin subsequently became similar to the Virgin Mary holding the baby Jesus. Portrayed as a maternal figure with a male baby, her power to grant children is described in the Lotus Sutra, Chapter 25, which states… A woman desiring a son, “…after making worshipful offerings to the bodhisattva (Guanyin) shall straightway bare a son of happiness, excellence and wisdom. If she be desirous… of having a daughter, she shall straightway bare a daughter, upright and endowed with proper marks, who is loved and honored by a multitude of men.”
This was commissioned by a Guanyin devotee for personal veneration to assist a couple in the pregnancy, birth, and delivery of a healthy male child. The closed rear cavity (bung) indicates it was consecrated when its long inscription on the back was made, “On the auspicious day of March 26 during the 24th year (or 1544) of the reign of the emperor Chia-Ching, Guang Shi Liao, the student of master Lei Yuhua, admires the master’s work and had this piece made to honor his wife Guang Shi Liao.” Chia-Ching (Gia Jiang) reigned from was 1521-1567, making the creation of this piece March 1544. It was originally covered with a white base and painted in polychrome indicated by small white traces and the red touches in the crown. Although the polychrome was removed revealing a bare surface that shows the subtleties and brilliance of the details of this fine woodcarving, it is in very good condition for its age and use. This carving is part of the Spiritual-and-Inspirational VA Collection of Buddhist-Statues.
Click here for the Blog Consecrating Wooden Images to Imbue Them with A Life Force
Lee Irwin, “Divinity and Salvation: The Great Goddesses of China,” in Asian Folklore Studies, Indiana University, Vol. 49, 1990, pp 53-68.
|Dimensions||14 × 10 × 6 in|
|Place of Origin||
Antique, Ming Dynasty
|Materials and Technique||
Ht: 10.5". W: 5.25. D:4.375
Ht: 26.7cm W: 11.43cm D: 13.01cm
1 lb 13oz
Very good, signs of age and wear consistent with age, no restorations/repairs (see description)