Mahayana meaning ”Great Vehicle,” is the largest school of Buddhist thought in the world, practiced mainly in China, Japan, Korea Taiwan, Tibet and Mongolia. It was created as a result of the great schism from Theravada Buddhism after the Second Buddhist council in 383 B. C.E. The three main aspects of Mahayana Buddhism are the importance of the sutras, meditation and the bodhisattvas along with the communities they serve. Bodhisattvas are enlightened beings who have chosen to remain in the human realm and assist other sentient beings in achieving enlightenment rather than entering nirvana. Bodhisattvahoodis the goal of the Mahayana which requires a resolve to win full enlightenment for the benefit of all sentient beings. Mahayana acknowledges human weaknesses and offers help in salvation through the use of the Bodhisattvas. It is a very inclusive form of Buddhism, absorbing beliefs of indigenous religions and accepting different gods and spirits into its massive pantheon and was very influenced by Taoist and Popular Religion ideologies.

Showing 1–12 of 34 results

  • Antique Bodhisattva in Meditation, China


    This exquisite 18th-century statue is a Bodhisattva, probably Guanyin, the Goddess of Compassion seated in meditation hands gently rest in her lap and feet in padmasana.  She is exquisitely portrayed as a beautiful young woman with downcast eyes in an aura of serenity and compassion. Every strand of her beautify bun is carved with definition, and in perfect order. Unlike more ornate Guanyin images, this image depicts a humble, unpretentious yet elegant being composed of smooth, gentle flowing lines in a style that helps create an air of peaceful spirituality. The original polychrome and lacquer finish has transformed into a silver hue with a soft patina. This exceptionally fine piece is modeled with elegance, grace, and humility and a radiance that enriches any surroundings and creates its own meditative space.

  • 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 a Holding Scroll, China


    This outstanding delicately carved Mahayana Buddhism image is Guanyin, the Bodhisattva of Compassion, seated in the position of royal ease (lalitsana) on a rocky throne, a reference to her cave home the island of Putuo in the Southern China Sea. Masterfully carved, she has gentle curves thrusting her weight in opposing directions in a lyrical posture. Her refined outstretched right hand with gentle elongated fingers rests on her right knee and her left extends across her body to hold a scroll, a common iconographic symbol of the Lotus Sutra, one of the Buddhist scriptures where her deeds and powers are enumerated or the Dharma which she constantly reads. Portrayed as a mature compassionate woman in serene repose, her delicate face has half-closed almond eyes, pursed lips, and full cheeks. Her hair is atop her head in a chignon and she wears a loose robe open at the chest and tied at the waist. The deeply carved folds of the robe and the patterns on the rocky outcrop on which she sits exemplify its superior craftsmanship   Her flowing robe has much original paint  and the piece is in very good condition with normal signs of wear for its age and use including minor paint loses.


  • 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 on a Mythical Hǒu, China


    This remarkable and enchanting figurine is Guanyin on her mount, the Hǒu. Although the Hǒu is often a compilation of 10 animals, here it resembles a Buddhist lion with its open roaring mouth displaying its fangs, a beard, a bushy tail, deer horns and fish scales covering its body The round orb in its mouth representing a pearl can be rubbed for good luck. She is modestly dressed, hair is in a plain bun with a simple crown, and devoid of jewels. She sits on a delicately carved saddle with fringe edges, her left hand holding her belt and her right cradling a ruyi scepter.

  • 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 Guanyin with Lobed Crown, China


    Made for placement on a home altar, this small Guanyin sits in a lotus position (padmasana) feet upward and exposed, hands clasped in anjali mudra of prayer, reverence, respect. With a full face and downcast eyes, she is depicted in modest provincial style with symbols of her bodhisattva status: a 5-lobed diadem, hair in a chignon, braids draping down her shoulders, and a flowing robe. Her pendulous ears are a sign of wisdom, her ability to hear the cries of sentient beings, and her spiritual awakening. The two-part lotus throne is well carved as is the rest of the image.

  • Antique Guanyin with Lobed Crown, China


    The delicately carved antique Guanyin sits with hands in her lap in dhyana (meditation) mudra and feet in padmasana (lotus position), heels facing up. Her oval head is bent in serene peacefulness with a prominent chin and cheekbones, curving pursed lips, and a wide triangular-shaped nose with a center ridge to form high arching eyebrows that frame the almost closed and almond-shaped eyes. The hair, arranged in a tall bun, curves down the back behind a tall three-lobed crown with flaring triangles decorated with deep-grooved crosshatches. The large pendulous lobes and decorated crown indicate her regal status as an enlightened Bodhisattva. The unusually high forehead and oversized head help the viewer to concentrate on her beautifully formed, quiet and calm face as a model of inner peace and serenity to which all Buddhists strive. Masterful yet simple, this image brings quiet energy to its surroundings. The sculpture has a darkened hue from centuries of smoke from incense and candles, but also has traces of the original red pigment and gilt. The rear cavity for consecration is unusually long. The losses in pigment are consistent with age, and the statue otherwise is in very good condition.

  • 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 Large Lohan with Hands in Reverence, China


    This beautifully crafted rare 17-18th century Ming/Qing large Lohan is from the same Buddhist site as the foreign-born heavy bearded Lohan (Bodhidharma), and the same artist may have carved both. He sits on a high backless throne in monks attire: robes with a cowl over his shoulders tied under his chin, extended belt, material draped between his legs, and wavelike creases at the arms, elbows, knees, shoulders, and legs with monk’s red slippers.  He is portrayed as a real person with very individual, distinctive, and un-idealized features. His large and wide forehead sets off the hood that lies flat on his shaved head. His benevolent youthful face sweetly smiling face with downcast eyes is an image of compassion, wisdom and peace.

End of content

End of content