Ting Yun-p'eng (1547 - after 1682)
|National Palace MuseumVisions of Compassion:
Images of Kuan-yin in Chinese Art
Gallery 202, 212
2000/10/1 - 2000/12/25
Temporarily Closed for Renovation
(11/21 - 11/30)
Kuan-yin, also known as Kuan-shih-yin (lit. Beholder of All Sounds) is one of the most important Buddhist figures in Chinese religious life. Kuan-yin is the Goddess of Mercy in Chinese Mahayana Buddhism, and is a sinified adaptation of the Indian male Boddhisattva Avalokitesvara. The veneration of Kuan-yin entered and spread throughout China alongside Buddhism, beginning in the 3rd century A.D. Over the course of the next 1700 years, learned monks translated over eight scriptures and produced an extensive body of apocryphal religious literature on the subject of Kuan-yin. Though this process of sinification, Kuan-yin became a major subject of popular literature and legend.
Artistic representations of Kuan-yin can be roughly divided into three types, exoteric, esoteric, and sinified, each of which is associated with particular religious and scriptural traditions. Exoteric images generally show Kuan-yin with two arms, wearing a crown inset with a Buddha, and holding such objects as a lotus, willow branch, and rosary beads. In the esoteric tradition, Kuan-yin is often represented as a multi-headed, multi-armed goddess holding a wide variety of implements used to help believers escape all forms of disaster and difficulty. "Sinified" representations are based on the Kuan-yin of popular Chinese tradition seen in apocryphal texts, miracle tales, pao-chuan (precious scrolls), and other stories and legends. They include such images as the "White-robed Kuan-yin", "kuan-yin Bestowing Children", "Kuan-yin of the Fish Basket," and the "South Sea Kuan-yin." The Museum hopes that this exhibition of paintings and scriptures on the subject of Kuan-yin, which includes examples of all three representational traditions, will help visitors better understand the complex and multi-faceted process of Buddhism's development in China.
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