It was during the Northern Wei dynasty that Buddhism was introduced to China – an introduction which rooted itself firmly in the cultural fabric of China. Over 30,000 Buddhist images dating from the Northern Wei dynasty have been found to date. Guanyin is the Buddhist bodhisattva associated with compassion. In Buddhism, a bodhisattva is any person who is on the path towards Buddhahood, which is the rank or condition of an “awaken one”, a Buddha. She was first given the appellation of “Goddess of Mercy” or the Mercy Goddess by Jesuit missionaries in China and became associated by some with the Christian Mother Mary figure. The Chinese name Guanyin is short for Guanshiyin, which means “The One Who Perceives the Sounds of the World.” She is still regarded today as one of the most beloved Buddhist divinities.
Chinese Northern Wei Brick with Guanyin
A finely moulded Northern Chinese, Wei Dynasty, grey rectangular ceramic brick displaying a nimbate figure of Guayin. The standing figure is depicted frontally, wearing a long robe with carved folds to the garment, painted in deep red with the insides of the sleeves rendered in light green. She is performing the Abhaya mudra with her raised hand, symbolising charity, compassion and boon granting. The mudra is a ritualistic pose or gesture which holds symbolic meaning in Buddhism, generally performed with hands and fingers, sometimes involving the whole body. The figure’s hair is styled in a high bun, coloured in black pigment which beautifully contrasts with the green coloured aureola behind her head. Facial features, such as eyes and eyebrows, feature a calm, contemplative expression and are rendered through delicate streaks of black paint, while the lips are painted in bright red. The panel above the figure is decorated with orange draping. The reverse of the brick is undecorated.
Period: Northern Wei Dynasty
Condition: Fine condition, some minor chipping to the sides, much of the original pigmentation still visible. Earthly encrustations on surface
|Dimensions||L 34 x W 16.4 x H 6.5 cm|
Central Asia, East Asia (Far East)