Thousand-armed Thousand-eyed Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara (Guanyin)

Ink. Label on back.
Paper panel.

Artist: Formerly attributed to Fanlong 梵隆 (active mid-12th century)
Historical period(s)
Ming dynasty, 16th-17th century?
Ink on paper
H x W (image): 75.8 x 58.7 cm (29 13/16 x 23 1/8 in)
Credit Line
Gift of Charles Lang Freer
Freer Gallery of Art
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view

Hanging scroll (mounted on panel)

baimiao style, bodhisattva, Buddhism, China, Guanyin, incense, lotus, Ming dynasty (1368 - 1644), monk, vajra

To 1917
Li Wenqing (late 19th-early 20th century), Shanghai, to 1917 [1]

From 1917 to 1919
Charles Lang Freer (1854-1919), purchased from Li Wenqing, in New York, in 1917 [2]

From 1920
Freer Gallery of Art, gift of Charles Lang Freer in 1920 [3]


[1] See Original Kakemono and Makimono List, L. 1156, Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives. See also, Voucher No. 18, December 1916. This object exhibits seals, colophons, or inscriptions that could provide additional information regarding the object’s history; see Curatorial Remarks in the object record for further details.

[2] See note 1.

[3] The original deed of Charles Lang Freer's gift was signed in 1906. The collection was received in 1920 upon the completion of the Freer Gallery.

Previous Owner(s) and Custodian(s)

Charles Lang Freer 1854-1919
Li Wenqing (C.L. Freer source) ca. 1869-1931


Ink. Label on back.
Paper panel.


Multi-armed images of Guanyin, the bodhisattva (enlightened being) of compassion, are popular in several schools of Chinese Buddhism. In its fullest form, the bodhisattva has one thousand arms and hands. Each hand has an eye in its palm that perceives the suffering of the world, and each bears a token that offers a means of salvation.This version has twenty two pairs of arms.

Wearing a crown decorated with figures of the Five Dhyani (Wisdom) Buddhas, Guanyin sits on a lotus throne before a lunar halo. Above its head, two hands hold aloft an image of the bodhisattva’s patron, Amitabha, the Buddha of Infinite Light. Two other hands, palms together, form a mudra (gesture) of reverence, while a third pair rests in a sign of meditation. The other thirty-eight hands hold symbolic objects, such as a vajra (thunderbolt) to represent enlightenment; willow branches to sprinkle compassion upon believers; a sword to sever the bonds of ignorance; and a lotus to indicate the flowering of the mind. At the foot of the lotus throne stands a Buddhist monk, who offers smoke from an incense burner as an act of devotion.

Collection Area(s)
Chinese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
CC0 - Creative Commons (CC0 1.0)

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