Contemporary Chinese painting on silk of Guan Yin. The image of Guan Yin has been painted thousands of times in Asia. She (or he) has been the focus of great attention of Buddhist followers. This is an image that grew out of the traditions of India. The original figure there of a bodhisattva who was named Avalokiteshvara. He was a being who had reached the level of perfection that he might enter Nirvana but he refused, instead staying in the world to teach men the Dharma. Until all men had achieved enlightenment he would forego Nirvana. As the image and tradition of Avalokiteshvara traveled up along the silk road into China it combined with the image of a mother deity and in many cases has a very feminine aspect or is female. In the case here the figure is very slight and delicate. The figure is, as the tradition dictates, holding a vessel called a kalasa which holds the elixir of life. It is the metaphor of spirituality being the core of endurance and eternity. The other hand is holding a willow branch. The willow branch is to sprinkle the nectar of the heavens or the elixir of life over those on the spiritual path. This painting has been done with a very fine line, very sensitive form. It is very much a painting which radiates the image of the compassionate and merciful personality of this Buddhist deity.
Size: image 48.5" x 13.75" (123 x 35 cm), overall 81.5" x 25.5" (207 x 65 cm)
Media: Ink & pigment on silk