A Dehua figure of Guanyin and boy

17th century

The Guanyin is seated on a rock with one leg raised, wearing long robes and a tiara on her slightly tilted head decorated with a small Buddha. Her face is rendered serene below neatly combed hair. The boy is standing to the left holding a lotus stem. The figure is covered with a cream glaze.

22.7 cm high



A Swedish family collection, acquired in Stockholm prior to 1960

Dehua porcelain is particularly noted for its many figures. Moulded representations of Guanyin, Bodhisattva’s and Daoist Immortals were initially made for the internal market to be used on altars or for the scholar’s studio, but from the mid-17th century they were also exported to Europe.

A comparable dated (1629) example showing the goddess with two acolytes on either side is illustrated by Donnelly. The style of the modelling of this figure, such as the rock and drapery of the robes, is very similar to the present Guanyin. Therefore this figure can be dated the early 17th century and was probably made for the Chinese market.

This Guanyin is represented as the child bringing, songzi, goddess – seated in a characteristic ‘royal ease’ position with a boy standing next to her holding a lotus. A boy holding a lotus, is symbolic of a wish for continuous male offspring, as the pronunciation of lotus, lian, is the same as for continuous.

An example of a Guanyin holding a boy with lotus on her lap is illustrated by Kerr and Ayers.

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