White-Robed Guanyin


late 1200s

attributed to Zhang Yuehu 張月壺

(Chinese, active 1200s)
Painting: 104.5 x 42.2 cm (41 1/8 x 16 5/8 in.); Overall with knobs: 195.4 x 61.8 cm (76 15/16 x 24 5/16 in.)
Location: not on view
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Did You Know?

As an artist, Zhang Yuehu was better known in Japan than in his own country.


The figure here sits on a rocky elevation representing Potalaka in the Southern Sea, Avalokitesvara’s island home. A vase with a bamboo sprig holds pure water, the nectar of life. Bamboo shines through the figure’s halo, a way of seeing the illusionary world through the Buddhist truth.

Avalokitesvara (Guanyin in Chinese), the bodhisattva of compassion, was integrated into the Chan Buddhist canon of venerated beings. In this context, the bodhisattva is often depicted in its female manifestation as the White-Robed Guanyin. The worship of the feminine White-Robed Guanyin has its origins on Mount Tianzhu in Hangzhou, where Qian Liu (852–932), ruler of the Wuyue kingdom, established the Upper Tianzhu Monastery to venerate her image.
White-Robed Guanyin

White-Robed Guanyin

late 1200s

Zhang Yuehu

(Chinese, active 1200s)
China, Southern Song dynasty (1127-1279)

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