Rare Antique Carving of Guanyin on a Deified Ox, China (16287LMK) $885 SPECIAL PRICE

Original price was: $885.00.Current price is: $795.00.

H: 10.25″  W: 7.5″  D: 3.75 ”  |   free shipping in continental u.s.!

This extraordinary rare and delicately rendered rural carving is a female bodhisattva possibly Guanyin seated on a lotus throne atop an ox.  Beautifully highlighted in vibrant gold and adorned with intricate designs on the lotus petals and ox’s saddle coverings, this statue shows how the concept of a bodhisattva was adapted to the deification of  “draft animals” (beasts of burden) who were integral to rural daily and agricultural activities in Chinese Popular Religion, Buddhism and Taoism beliefs.


This extraordinary rare piece is a special Chinese Popular Religion image of a Buddhist bodhisattva seated atop a round lotus throne with five arched and pointed petals atop a recumbent ox. It is a variant of Guanyin sitting in a typical Guanyin stance with one leg up and the other bent in the position of royal ease (lalitsana). Her right hand is held up in teaching (vitarka-mudra) and the left rests in her lap. A glorious yet unusual image, as she is highlighted in vibrant gold on her crown and robes and was adorned with intricate designs on the lotus petals and ox’s saddle. Images of a female bodhisattva on an ox are extremely rare, but a zoom seminar presented by Meir Shaharat the Stanford University Ho Center for Buddhist Studies featured a similar carving of a bodhisattva seated on a standing ox. Shaharat links the bodhisattva concept to “draft animals” – beasts who participate in critical daily and agricultural activities – including the horse, mule, donkey, and ox – that shows  the strong integration of Buddhism and Taoism into Chinese rural religion. Rural belief in the divinity of draft animals reached its heights in the Qing Dynasty in the mid-19th century. During that time, the Horse King and fellow draft animals were widely worshiped deities in agrarian economies. Shahar found a rural cult in Shanxi where devotees created a benevolent deity, the Ox King (Niuwan) to whom they pray to express their dependence on and gratitude for draft animals who toiled for them, sacrificed their bodies them and descended from Heaven to help helping humanity as beasts of burden. Shahar claims that “The joint worship of human and animal tutelary deities implies that people and their beasts of burden are equally vulnerable and similarly in need of divine protection.” The Ox King deity as a female bodhisattva is a syncretic deity, revered in peasant’s Popular Religion. Buddhists depict her as a benevolent female bodhisattva called the Great Strength Bodhisattva that committed to assist devotees as an animal companion and Taoists depict her as a divinity that is the incarnation of a star. This rare provincial antique Chinese woodcarving is in very good condition considering its age and use with expected flaking and fading of paint and minor old insect damage. As indicated by the back cavity, it was consecrated and probably placed on a rural home or small temple altar along with other images. Mounted on a modern frosted Acrylic base, it will complement any decor.

Click here for VA Instagram on Guanyin on a Deified Ox (16287LMK)


Meir Shahar, “Newly-Discovered Manuscripts of a Northern-Chinese horse King Temple Association, T’oung Pao, Vol. 105, Fasc. 1-2 (2019), pp. 183-228 (46 pages),

Meir Shahar, China Research Seminar Series (Michaelmas 2020), The Diving Ox: the Draft Animal as Incarnate Deity in Chinese Religion and Literature.

Additional information

Dimensions 16 × 12 × 8 in
Place of Origin



Antique, Qing Dynasty


18-19th Century

Materials and Technique


Dimensions (inches)

Ht: 10.25" W: 7.5" D: 3.75"

Dimensions (metric)

: Ht: 19.05cm W:16.51cm D: 9.52cm


7lb 3oz


Very good, patina and wear consistent with age and use

Item Number


Shipping Box Size