Antique Three-Faced Tantric Bodhisattva, China (16200LBEM)


H: 29.5″  W:14″  D: 6.5″ | CALL FOR SHIPPING QUOTE

This rare Chinese 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, multiple arms and six elegant hands and wears an elegant lobed crown centered by Amitabha, as does Guanyin. Her robe extends to her bare feet as she stands on a simple raised pedestal. This is an extremely rare and important piece ans is as lovely as it is spiritual.


This statue reflects the Tantric-Buddhism (Vajrayana or Esoteric) tradition involving mystical concepts and practices, elaborate rituals and a strong hierarchical structure that departs from mainstream Buddhism. Many Chinese Buddhist, Taoist and Tantric deities are either very difficult to identify or are confused with other divinities, as they are sometimes presented without identifying attributes or have unusual features.  This is Chun-ti P’u-sa the Bodhisattva of Light, (Stevens) worshipped by  Chan (Zen) Buddhists. She often has several faces;  this image has three. Regarded as a manifestation of Guanyin, both swore to deliver all beings from suffering before they entered nirvana.  According to legends, Chun-ti P’u-sa was summoned to Heaven to challenge K’ung Hsuan, a competitor for the dynastic throne. She was whisked aloft by a rainbow and, having acquired the necessary skills, reappeared in a fire cloud form with 24 heads and eighteen arms. Throwing a silken cord around her adversary, she turned K’ung Hsuan into a one-eyed peacock and rode him off to the Western Heavens. This antique-Chinese-wood-carving is probably from Jiangsu Province and is rendered in typical Tantric style: she has six arms and a head with three faces, one facing front and two at the rear. Her upper hands hold discs of the Sun and Moon, the hands in the center are pressed at the chest with palms together in anjali, the mudra of prayer and the two lower hands are in vitarka-mudra, the teaching gesture. When Chun-ti P’u-sa or other bodhisattvas appear with multi-heads and arms, it symbolizes their ability to save many living beings at one time. (Reid)  She is covered in gilt and red giving her a glowing radiance.  She wears a finely carved elegant  three lobed crown centered by Amitabha Buddha seated on a lotus throne (padmapitha) in a radiating aureole She has prominent pendulous ears symbolizing wisdom similar to depictions of Guanyin with whom she is often confused. This extremely rare piece is in very good condition with a dark lacquer patina, paint and some lacquer losses and one reattached arm which does not detract from its overall appearance, elegance and spirituality. The oval back cavity indicates it was consecrated. It is part of the Spiritual-and-Inspirational Collection of Buddhist-Art.


Margret Reid, The Changing Face of Guanyin in East Asian Religions, Thesis requirement for Master of Arts in Religious Studies, University of Canterbury, 1977

Keith Stevens, Chinese Gods: The Unseen World of Spirits and Demons, Hong Kong, Collins & Brown, 1997.


Additional information

Place of Origin



Antique, Qing Dynasty


18-19th Century

Materials and Technique

Wood, polychrome, lacquer

Dimensions (inches)

Ht: 29.5” W: 14” D: 6.5”

Dimensions (metric)

Ht: 74.93cm W: 35.56cm D: 22.58cm


Very good, see description


14 lbs 12 oz

Reference Number

16200 BKEM

Shipping Box Size