Statue of Guanyin

by Jin Dynasty, China

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Statue of Guanyin at the University of Pennsylvania Museum of Archaeology and Anthropology

Credit: Courtesy Penn Museum

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Guanyin, known as Avalokiteshvara in Sanskrit, is the bodhisattva of compassion. The most popular deity in Buddhism, Guanyin listens to the prayers of the distressed. Devotees would commission the bodhisattva's image to help them gain salvation. This deity's position, with one leg pendant and a bent knee against the ledge, is called the royal ease, lalitsana in Sanskrit, a pose ultimately traceable to pre-Buddhist royalty. This larger than life statue is on view in the Penn Museum’s Chinese Rotunda, which features some of the greatest monumental Chinese art in the United States.