SOLD Antique Nanhai Guanyin of the Southern Seas with Vial and Parrot, China (16059XCKE) $1195


H: 17.25”  W: 9”  D: 5” | FOR SHIPPING INFORMATION CONTACT US AT 213-568-3030

This remarkable spiritual work combines characteristics of provincially rendered carvings with imperially sanctioned images of Nanhai Guanyin. She sits in meditation on a backless throne on a stylized rocky outcrop flanked by twisting vertical structures holding her vial and white parrot. Her half-closed eyes glance down serenely under painted arched eyebrows. She wears an arched crown over hair looped over her ears and down her shoulders and flowing gold robes bordered in red in contrast to the flesh tones of the face, chest, and hands. Much of the pigmentation and gilt on this artfully rendered image remains. Surviving depictions of her with the vial and the filial parrot in good condition are relatively rare.



One of the most popular Mahayana Pure Land Buddhism depictions of Guanyin, especially during the Ming and Qing dynasties, is Nanhai Guanyin shown here symbolically on a stylized rocky outcrop at her cave at Putuo in meditation (dhyana), legs in padmasana under her robes, flanked by twisted columns one topped by a vial placed on a draped cloth holding the precious dew of compassion on left and the white parrot on her right. The white parrot as Guanyin’s companion has its origins in the Pure Land Sutra which describes the Pure Land as home to parrots who help those who have achieved Enlightenment in the Western Paradise. As a syncretic deity, Irvin calls her one of the Great Chinese Goddesses who are all imperially sanctioned and epitomize the feminine role of compassionate protectors who grant health, long life and safety to all regardless of their social position and each has large temples, monasteries and small local shrines dedicated to them. This image roughly fashioned by a provincial craftsmen, is a blend of rural provincial traditions and Imperial representations of Guanyin. While Imperial images are made of bronze and porcelains, this one is wood which was less costly and represents the simplicity of the flow of life that nurtures all beings. Rather than the traditional lalitsana pose of royal ease, she sits demurely in dhyana (meditation), hands in her lap in a modest three part robe. The attempt at being more imperial is reflected in her high arched crown, coiffed hair looped over her ears and down her shoulders and the gilt and red bordered robes. It’s an interesting combination and may reflect the wishes of a wealthier provincial family that commissioned it to be placed on a home altar as demonstrated by the closed bung in the back of the consecrated piece.  The carving was beautifully rendered but is now in good/fair condition as are the many Chinese cultural objects compromised during China’s modernization. The back has cracks with some old attempts at repair; the bottom, top of the crown and base have old insect damage and the lacquer surface and paint show losses. Nonetheless, the statue retains most of its original lacquered gilt and is a wonderful spiritual work of art. This carving is part of the VA Spiritual-and-Inspirational Collection of Buddhist-Statues.

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

Click here for the Blog The Emergence of Nanhai Guanyin  

Click here for the Blog Consecrating Wooden Images to Imbue Them with A Life Force

Additional information

Place of Origin



Antique, Qing Dynasty


18th century

Materials and Technique


Dimensions (inches)

Ht: 17.25” W: 9” D: 5”

Dimensions (metric)

Ht: 43.81cm W: 22.86 D: 12.7cm

Item Number

16059 XCRE


4lbs 14oz


Good condition, see description

Shipping Box Size