Statue of goddess Kuan Yin, goddess of mercy and maternity, China, before 1922

Made:
before 1922 in China
Wooden statue of Kwan Yin, goddess of mercy and maternity, represented as pregnant, Chinese. Full view of front, Wooden statue of Kwan Yin, goddess of mercy and maternity, represented as pregnant, Chinese. Full view of back of

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Wooden statue of Kwan Yin, goddess of mercy and maternity, represented as pregnant, Chinese. Full view of front,
Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Wooden statue of Kwan Yin, goddess of mercy and maternity, represented as pregnant, Chinese. Full view of back of
Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Science Museum Group Collection
© The Board of Trustees of the Science Museum

Wooden statue of Kuan Yin, goddess of mercy and maternity, represented as pregnant, Chinese

Kwan Yin is known within the Buddhist faith as a ‘bodhisattva’. This is a god who has selflessly given up the progression to Nirvana, the ultimate state of enlightenment that is the goal of Buddhists, to remain in this world to help mankind. She is the goddess of mercy and compassion linked with maternity. She can perform miracles and answer prayers. This wooden statue was originally studded with semi-precious stones and depicts her as pregnant. She is revered by men and women because of her understanding of suffering.

Chinese Buddhists consider P’u-t’ o-shan island, China, the mythical home of Kwan Yin. It became the centre of a devotional cult in her honour during the 900s CE. It was established when a Buddhist monk travelling with an image of Kwan Yin sheltered from a storm on the island. He was so taken with the island’s beauty he built a temple in Kwan Yin’s honour. It is still a place of pilgrimage.

Details

Category:
Asian Medicine
Collection:
Sir Henry Wellcome's Museum Collection
Object Number:
A642959
Materials:
amethyst and wood
type:
statue
taxonomy:
  • visual and verbal communication
  • sculpture
credit:
Sotheby's