• 4800.00 £
  • Published date: May 10, 2023
    • Darwen, Lancashire, United Kingdom


⭕ This is a most beautiful and important statue of Quan Yin dating to the early middle years of the Ming Dynasty.I have consulted a Chinese scholar and he assures me that the inscription of the back confirms this.This listing program does not allow the use of foreign language keyboards,so I cannot give you the Chinese characters here,but,transliterated into English characters, the inscription reads,left to right and top to bottom as in old traditional writing:Ta Ming Xuand Nien-Chih,which is literally:in the Great Ming,Xuand,This was made or in colloquial English:This was made in the reign of the Emperor Xuand of the Great Ming Dynasty.The Emperor Xuand ruled from 1425 -1435,his personal name was Zhu Zhanji.Xuand was his chosen era name and meansProclamation of Virtue
The Xuande Emperor was known as an accomplished painter,particularly skilled at painting animals. Robert D. Mowry,the curator of Chinese art at the Arthur M.Sackler Museum at Harvard,described him as the only Ming emperor who displayed genuine artistic talent and interest.
But back to our statue:This is a superb representation of Quan Yin (also spelled Kwan Yin,Kuanyin, Guanyin).Regarded by the Chinese as the Goddess of Mercy,she evolved from an Indian male prototype, Avalokiteshvara,the merciful lord of utter enlightenment.One of the many stories of Quan Yin is that she was a devout Buddhist who,through great love and sacrifice during her life,had earned the right to enter into Nirvana after death.But,while standing before the gates of paradise,she heard a cry of anguish from earth below,and,turning back to earth,she renounced her reward of eternal bliss and in its place found immortality in the hearts of the suffering.In China she is known by many names,the great mercy,great pity,salvation from misery and woe,etc.and in some senses she is compared to the Virgin Mary.She is one of the Three Great Beings,renowned for their power over animals and the forces of nature.
Quan Yin is a shortened form of Quanshiyin,a name that meansShe who hears the cries of the World, i.e.she who hears prayers.She is surnamed Sung-Tzu-Niang-Niang,Lady who brings children;she is the goddess of fecundity as well as of mercy. Worshiped especially by women,Quan Yin comforts the troubled,the sick,the lost,the deranged and all unfortunate souls.She is also regarded as the protector of seafarers,farmers and travelers.She cares for the souls in the underworld,and frees them from the torments of purgatory.Very powerful lady.
Quan Yin has 33 different manifestations and is one of the Bodhisattvas attending the Buddha Amitabha, The Buddha of Infinite Light.She is almost always represented with a small image of Amitabha in her crown,as she is in our statue.
Our Quan Yin is 16 1/4 inches tall,8 1/2 inches wide at her knees and 8 inches deep from the front of the lotus throne and plinth to the back.She sits in what appears to be full lotus position on a double lotus throne which in turn rests on a plinth.The entire figure is gilded and her raiment is decorated with geometric forms,flowers and leaves.The later are picked out in black lacquer with a vermilion background,leaving the gold to serve as the body of the figured elements.She is much darker on the front than on the back,which is understandable,as the front side of a devotional statue such as this would be the side most frequently touched and caressed,and which would receive the brunt of the smoke of the incense which was undoubtedly offered to her during her long life.You can see the beauty of the surface decoration best in the photographs of her sides and back.She must have been spectacular when new,but,at least according to my lights, her patina adds an incalculable value,as it testifies to her ancient origin,continuous care and marvelous longevity.
The bottom of the plinth looks like terra cotta,but I dont think it is.I believe that she is modeled using a unique Chinese formula common to her era which was a combination of gesso and saw dust.Or she could be modeled with gesso and clay over a core of wood,as she is rather heavy for her size,coming in at around 7 pounds.There are no seams or mold marks and I am unwilling even to make a scratch on the underside of the base to investigate further.An X-Ray machine would be helpful,but when I explored the possibilities at my local HMO,the technician was reluctant because of the metallic content of the gilding.
But the most amazing thing about this figure is the absolutely stunning condition she is in.There are no missing parts,no chips on the edges of the lotus throne,no serious damage of any kind.I believe that there is a very old repair on her left index finger,but her right hand,with its most elegant gesture, is completely unharmed.There is a some amount of schmutz (a highly acceptable term of art) in some of the crevices,which is to be expected.But in some of those folds and crevices you can still see the original brilliance of the gilding where hands and smoke could not reach.Quite naturally,there are a few,very small nicks and dings,but the agents creating the patina have long ago blended them with the whole making them nearly invisible.The surface of the figure is completely stable with no flaking or chipping gilt or lacquer.I have done absolutely nothing to the surface of this figure,believing that it is almost always better to leave things as they are.And in this I case,I believe it would approach the level of a crime to start fooling with it.In the most inconspicuous place I could find and with several curatorially approved cleaning solutions,I did try to test the patina.Nothing touched it.And I think she is just fine as she is.More than fine,she is spectacular.
There is still a label stuck to the bottom of the figure by the previous owner treating of the translation of the inscription on the back.I did not include a photo of it partly because space is limited and I would prefer that you can see as much of Quan Yin as possible and partly because, although he agrees with me in the main,he mistook the name of the Emperor and therefore the dates.But I will,of course,leave it in place.TA MING XUANDE NIEN-CHIH:MADE IN THE REIGN OF EMPEROR XUANDE OF THE GREAT MING DYNASTY.
Drop me an email if you wish to view some pictures.

Phone number ✆ 07624 793461

Darwen, Lancashire

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