阿弥陀佛 Buddha Amitabha, (Sanskrit: Infinite Light), also Amitayus, Amida in Japan and Emituo Fo in China, is the fourth Dhyani (cosmic) Buddha of Pure Land School of Buddhism, China’s largest Mahayana school. When he gained enlightenment, he vowed to create a place with no suffering. Called the Western Paradise, it can be reached after death by all who call “Na Mo a Mi Tuo Fo” (“Devotion to Amita Buddha”) or chant his name sincerely in any language. They will be led there where they will be reborn, abide in a blissful state and learn Dharma taught by Amitabha. He bestows longevity and is often depicted in meditation holding a begging bowl. In the Ming he was a standing figure with a long right arm palms outward in varada mudra, the gesture of charity and his left at his chest holding a lotus blossom or incense pot. Images of the Amitabha Buddha often center Guanyin’s headdress acknowledging her spiritual connection to him.

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  • Antique Carved Guanyin on Lotus Pedestal, China


    This Guanyin image was probably one of a pair of images along with the Taoist Queen Mother of the West placed together on a community, local temple or home altar.  Created by the same local artisan, they  are provincial rather than imperial style with a humble, unadorned and simple rendering, seated on backless thrones, hands covered by a ritual cloth –  uncharacteristic of Guanyin but common for Taoist goddesses. Both wear layered robes and a high pointed crown – the Queen Mother’s centered by a phoenix and Guanyin’s by a flower surrounded by symbolic aureole of radiating light. Both have soft blissful smiles with eyes cast slightly downwards to engage their devotees. Initially covered in bright polychrome colors, there are traces of surviving red, yellow, green, brown and black.

  • Antique Guanyin Held Up by Demons, China


    This outstanding Guanyin wood carving is an extremely rare image and displays a wonderful earthy blend of spiritual and folk traditions that resonated with provincial populations. She sits on a lotus above a hexagonal shaped throne in full robes, legs are in lotus posture with the feet upward on the opposite thigh (padmasana), the left hand  in meditation position, the right raised in abhaya mudra , and her lobed crown is centered with Amitabha Buddha inside an aureole which is all normal Buddhist iconography. The four haggard and agonized creatures struggling to hold up the calm Guanyin and her throne on their shoulders is unique, a brilliant visual representation of the triumph of Buddhism over ignorance. Probably placed in a community shrine or Guanyin temple, the rear is unpainted as it was displayed high against a wall and foreshortened to be viewed from below. With its admonitions about greed, aversion and ignorance it is a great metaphor for our times. 


  • Antique Guanyin in Meditation, China


    Guanyin is portrayed here on a backless seat in meditation with her legs in a lotus position covered with her flowing robes.  In this provincial rendering her simple 3-lobed crown contains radiating markings and identifying features include a chignon behind a simple three-lobed crown, plain braids down her shoulders, a round full face in a smile with half closed eyes framed by pendulous ear, voluminous three-part robes and a long simple flat necklace. It retains most of its original lacquer highlighted by gilt.


  • Antique Guanyin with Dhyani Buddhas in Crown, China


    This serene exquisitely carved Guanyin sits on a plain detached pedestal base in the lotus position in meditation, hands in her lap wearing a traditional undergarment tied at her chest that extends over her legs and is covered by a long-sleeved flowing outer garment that flows over her shoulders, loops at the waist, and drapes down her back. Delicate incised leaves within caved circles enhance the robe at the knees, and other leaf motifs appear on the front, back, and sleeves of the robe. The deeply carved folds on the arms and rounded garment hem echo the curvature of her body. Her gentle, sweet face is soft and smooth with very high eyebrows arched over downcast half-closed eyes and above a narrow and small nose and her red pursed lips are set in a peaceful and calming half smile. Her high pointed crown depicts the Five Tantric Dhyani Buddhas.  This is truly a remarkable carving.

  • Antique Home Altar Figure of Guanyin, China


    This delicately carved home altar figure is Guanyin represented as gender neutral in meditation on a lotus throne.  Her humble demeanor, modest robes and absence of stylized decorative details indicate it was carved by a provincial artisan and its simple elegance exemplifies the best of provincial Ming and Qing carvings. She is a tranquil figure with simple, soft, and beautifully rendered facial details and almond shaped eyes cast down in serene composure. Most of the paint and lacquer was removed leaving  traces of red, white, flesh color morphing to beige on the face and the remaining lacquer has darkened over time. It is in very good condition with expected chips, cracks, and paint losses.


  • Antique Large Guanyin on Lotus Throne, China


    This extraordinary Guanyin originates from rural provincial and less literate urban areas in China.  Not carved in a sophisticated “imperial” style, its great charm depends on straightforward forms in bright and decorative color combinations. She sits on a backless throne resting on a lotus pedestal held up by a stem flanked by lotuses facing out in modified casual royal ease (lalitsana) and her right hand is a relaxed vitarka mudra. Her oversized crown houses a simple Amitabha Buddha in a  lyrical frame  By using vibrant unusual multi-colored color combinations, an informal sitting position, simplified, almost geometric shapes for the head and facial features, and bright modest robes she is reflects a humble folk-art image extremely accessible to her devotees. Its size indicates it was carved for a large home, clan, or community temple.

  • Antique Massive Lacquered Guanyin in Vitarka, China


    This powerful, exquisite and rare almost life-size Guanyin seated in teaching mudra to spread the dharma, radiates serene spiritual energy. To optimally enjoy this statue, she should be placed in an elevated position as it was modeled to be viewed from below. Magnificently carved and covered with lacquer, this carved wood and lacquered figure will fill any environment with meditative tranquility.  Authentic Buddhist carved images of this size, beauty, quality, and shape are very difficult to find, especially after China’s modernization.


  • Antique Ming/Qing Guanyin in Meditation, China


    This  delicately detailed Guanyin statue seated in meditation on a two-tiered backless throne has flowing braids, simple necklace, and voluminous robes indicate her regal status, while her pendulous ears, compassionate downcast eyes, serene contemplative expression, and calm smile symbolize her enlightened status. The image’s distinguishing feature is its deeply carved three-part diadem (crown) centered with a carved Amitabha Buddha on lotus throne surrounded by an aureole. Much of the burgundy and red polychrome, gilt and lacquer which covered the piece has been worn by years of use, but it is retains its simple beauty, elegance, and warmth. It is in very good condition for its age and use.


  • Antique Nanhai Guanyin with Attendants and Donor, China


    In this rare statue Guanyin sits in meditation in her cave at Putuo with two sets of attendants placed within niches of the cave and topped by a seated Taoist official who is the donor who commissioned the statue or a priest.  She wears a blue crown decorated with floral motifs, a red base and centered with a deeply carved image of Amitabha Buddha silhouetted in a deep arched border. Her traditional three-part robe with a blue undergarment, red outer garment and blue shawl extends down to the top of her pedestal throne topped by flat stylized lotus leaves. The top attendants are her acolytes Shan Tsai on her right and the Dragon Princess Longnu on her left and below are two generic attendants.


  • Antique Nanhai Guanyin with Aureole and Acolytes, China


    Nanhai Guanyin sits in meditation on a pedestal framed by a large mandorla with her two acolytes, Shan Tsai  (now lost to deterioration) and the Dragon Princess Longnü. Unlike most similar images which are composed of a separately carved backdrop and attendants attached to her throne, it was carved from a single piece of wood. It was covered with polychrome and gilt and a layer of lacquer, much of which has deteriorated. The pedestal has partially disintegrated and is now affixed to a lucite stand and there are surface losses and age cracks.  Despite this, the piece retains its spiritual and serene charm. Guanyin’s face has a benign expression with half-closed eyes, pursed smiling lips, pendulous ears, and a crown with an image of Buddha Amitabha. Most Buddhist carvings suffered severe damage during China’s modernization and antique Guanyin images with her attendants are very rare.

  • Antique Three-Faced Tantric Bodhisattva, China


    This carving is probably Chun-ti P’u-sa, a tantric female deity called the Bodhisattva of Light, worshipped by Chinese Chan (Zen) Buddhists as a merciful Bodhisattva. In tantric style she has a head with three faces and multiple arms and elegant hands: the upper ones hold the Sun and Moon, the middle ones are in mudra of prayer and the lower ones the teaching mudra. Multi-headed and multi-armed bodhisattvas symbolizes their ability to save many living beings at one time. She wears an elegant lobed crown centered by Amitabha, as does Guanyin with whom she is often confused. Her long Buddhist robe extends to her bare feet as she stands on a simple raised pedestal. This is an extremely rare and important piece – as lovely as it is spiritual.

  • Bronze Guanyin in Meditation, Thailand


    This lovely 20th century Thai bronze statue is the White Clad Guanyin seated in meditation with her hands in her lap holding her vial of precious dew with her legs covered by her robes which flow to the top of the finely rendered multi-tiered lotus throne. Her open hood is centered by a mandorla surrounding an image of Buddha Amitabha, the Buddha of Infinite Light, her spiritual teacher. She is a vision of compassionate serenity with her half closed eyes and benevolent smile.

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