Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara (Guanyin) with vase and willow twig

Artist: Formerly attributed to Yan Liben (ca. 600-674)
Historical period(s)
Ming dynasty, 1368-1644
Color on silk panel
H x W (image): 156.8 x 76.8 cm (61 3/4 x 30 1/4 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)

Buddhism, China, Guanyin, Ming dynasty (1368 - 1644)

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. 1175, Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives. See also, Voucher No. 18, December 1916.

[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


As an object of veneration, Guanyin, the Bodhisattva of Compassion, is shown with emblems of divine power: visible hands engaged in curative action and bare upturned feet folded in the lotus position.

Although sometimes described as a woman, Guanyin originally had no gender, combining both male and female elements. The deity holds a purple water vase shaped like a lotus bud, and from its drops holy water from a willow branch. Wavelike patterns emanates from the center of the body and flow around its edges. Floriated emblems featuring lotuses decorate the robe, the colors of which are somber and deep. The lotus symbolizes Shakyamuni Buddha, who is also depicted in miniature in Guanyin's hood.

Published References
  • Suzuki Kei. Chugoku kaiga sogo zuroku [Comprehensive Illustrated Catalog of Chinese Painting]. 5 vols., Tokyo, 1982-1983. vol. 1: p. 257.
  • Katherine Nash Rhoades. Recent Additions to the Freer Collection. vol. 8, no. 5 Washington, October 1919. p. 286.
Collection Area(s)
Chinese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
CC0 - Creative Commons (CC0 1.0)

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