Avalotikeśvara, or Guanyin in Chinese, is a bodhisattva, or enlightened being, who embodies the compassion of all Buddhas. On his path to Buddhahood, a bodhisattva chose to stay behind in the earthly realm to help others to achieve enlightenment.
In this painting, the seated posture with the right leg crossed before the body represents the Water Moon manifestation and the landscape depiction of his personal paradise known as Mount Potalaka, which was thought to be on an island somewhere south of India. This painting, probably created during the fifteenth century in Japan, has classic elements of the Chinese Buddhist figural style. Its closest corollary is a thirteenth-century painting of Avolokiteśvara in the collection of the Yamaguchi Prefecture Museum.
From Bulletin of the Detroit Institute of Arts 89 (2015)
Artist Japanese
  • Water Moon Avalokitesvara
  • Hanging Scroll (alternate title)
Date between 15th and 16th century
Medium Ink and paint on silk
Dimensions Overall: 72 3/4 × 24 1/8 inches (184.8 × 61.3 cm)
Image: 34 1/2 × 16 inches (87.6 × 40.6 cm)
Credit Line Founders Society Purchase, Friends of Asian Art Acquisition Fund
Accession Number 2000.88
Department Asian Art
Not On View
(Kaikodo, New York, New York, USA);
2000-present, purchase by the Detroit Institute of Arts (Detroit, Michigan, USA)