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Avalokiteshvara, the 'beholding lord', is the Bodhisattva of compassion and a popular deity who manifests in many different aspects. He is known as Chenrezig in Tibet, Lokeshvara in Nepal, Kannon in Japan, and as Kuan Yin (Guanyin) who mainly appears in female form throughout China and Southeast Asia.
As Kannon he is shown here standing upon the seed-head of an open pink lotus. He is peaceful and radiant white in colour, and wears lower garments of embroidered silks, a silk sash draped across his left shoulder, billowing silk ribbons that adorn his crown and armlets, and a long green silk scarf that flows about his shoulders and arms. He is adorned with gold bracelets, armlets and a choker, with jewels and threaded bodhi-seeds ornamenting his longer necklace. His blue-black hair is piled up into a topknot with loose strands hanging about his shoulders, and his ornate golden crown bears the small image of red Amitabha Buddha, the 'Lord of the Lotus Family' of which Avalokiteshvara is the principal Bodhisattva. His aura and halo are decorated with inner rings of lotus petal designs, with entwined lotus flower motifs adorning their outer areas. With his left hand he holds aloft the stem of a pink lotus that blossoms at the level of his ear, while with his lowered right hand he makes the open-palmed gesture of supreme generosity.
© text by Robert Beer