Antique Nanhai Guanyin of the Southern Seas, China (16555BCK) $425

Original price was: $450.00.Current price is: $395.00.

H: 11.75”  W: 5.25”  D: 4.75” | FREE SHIPPING!

In this provincial carving for private devotion on a home altar, Nanhai Guanyin sits in tranquilly in anjali mudra at her cave home on Putuo on a lotus throne set on an open lotus framed by a backdrop arch of openwork with pierced cut outs. She wears a five-lobed crown and flowing robes symbolizing her regal status in contrast to her modest robes.  Few small Nanhai Guanyin figures have survived, and they are highly prized. In feng shui, Guanyin statues should be in the center of the home to bring blessings to the entire home.



This small antique carving is Nanhai Guanyin (Guanyin of the Southern Seas) who became a syncretic cult figure during the late Ming and Qing dynasties in rural provincial regions, especially Southern China. She is worshiped in Mahayana Pure Land Buddhism, Taoism and Popular Religion. The local artisan took liberties in the iconography, portrayal and attributes depicted which dramatically departed from imperially sanctioned images. It was carved wood rather than more precious materials. She sits on a two tiered lotus throne (padmapitha) on an open lotus at the entrance to her Tidal Cave home on Putuo Island under a craggy rock outcrop framed by a separately carved backdrop arch of pierced openwork which was detached and was later affixed with a nail. She sits serenely legs in padmasana  with her palms together at her heart in anjali mudra, a very rarely used mudra for Nanhai Guanyin. Although she has a five-lobed crown indicating her regal status as a bodhisattva, her features and attire are modestly presented to reflect local beliefs toresonate with rural people.  Guanyin is one of the Great Chinese Goddesses ( Irvin) who were imperially sanctioned and worked for the salvation of all beings. Small figurines like this were placed on a home altar and revered by females who viewed her as a protective deity and honored them with regular offerings of food, fruits, vegetables and tea as it was sacrilegious to offer meat or wine. According to feng shui, Guanyin statues should be placed in the center of the home to bring blessings to the entire home. The piece was red and covered with lacquer but is now blackened with age and smoke from candle and incense offerings. 

Click here for the Blog The Emergence of Nanhai Guanyin.

Lee Irwin, “Divinity and Salvation: The Great Goddesses of China,” in Asian Folklore Studies, Indiana University, Vol. 49, 1990, pp 53-68.

Additional information

Place of Origin



Antique, Qing Dynasty


18-19th Century

Materials and Technique


Dimensions (inches)

Ht: 11.75” W: 5.25” D: 4.75”

Dimensions (metric)

Ht: 29.84cm W: 13.33cm D: 12.06cm


1 lb 13oz


Good condition, see description

Item Number