Figure of Kuan Yin, Queen of Heaven

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made in China

Postcard of Figure of Kuan Yin, Queen of Heaven.
© National Museums Scotland

Figure of Kuan Yin, Queen of Heaven

According to Chinese Buddhism, Kuan Yin (Kwan Yin, Guan Yin) is the Goddess of Mercy and Queen of Heaven, who leads devout Buddhists after death to the Western Paradise to join Amitabha, the Buddha of Infinite Light. This figure represents Kuan Yin.

This painted and originally gilt wooden figure shows Quan Yin dressed in a long robe, wearing a crown in the Tibetan style, and standing on a lotus flower. Her left arm is incomplete and she may have been shown holding a container of ambrosia.

Buddhists believe in repeated reincarnation after death. The idea that one could escape from this and go to the 'Western Paradise' with the aid of Kuan Yin became popular in China from the Tang period (AD 618-906). She was originally depicted as a male.

Record details

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Online ID: 000-180-000-794-C
Image Rights Holder: National Museums Scotland
Project: 0504: National Museums Scotland Part 2
Project description | View all records in project
Ref: National Museums Scotland  A.1926.165
Date: Probably 15th century
Material: Carved wood
Dimensions: 27.00" H
What: Figure / goddess / Kuan Yin
Subject: Figures / wood, carved
Who: Kuan Yin
Where: China
Description: Statuette in carved wood of Kuan Yin, goddess of mercy and queen of heaven, wearing robes and a crown and standing on a lotus design base, and originally painted and gilt: China, probably 15th century
  • Sheridan, J A (ed). Heaven and Hell and Other Worlds of the Dead. Edinburgh: National Museum of Scotland, 2000. 
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