After Buddha, the bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara was one of the earliest figures. He had to be known and recognized by worshipers for his role to establish communication between the Buddhist pantheon and the believers. For this mission of accessibility and compassion, Avalokiteshvara is charming, dignified, well dressed and even wealthy with many jewelry ornaments carved in the stone.
On September 16 in New York, Sotheby's sells an archaic Avalokiteshvara made in the Northern Qi Dynasty, which had been listed by the same auction house with a too high estimate in Hong Kong on October 8, 2013, lot 139.
This large sandstone sculpture 148 cm high shows the bodhisattva standing over a stele which is flanked by two lions and driven by a turtle. The use of an inscribed and dated stele is very common in this dynasty. The figure was dedicated on the 9th day of the 1st month of the 7th year of Wuping, corresponding to 576 in our calendar.
It is in good condition excepted that the forearms are missing and a lion is broken. It is estimated $ 800K, lot 424.
In China, Avalokiteshvara is known as Guanyin. This Guanyin from the Qi looks like a man without breast protuberance. He is therefore earlier than the feminization of the bodhisattva in China, which will be a consequence of his attributes of charm and elegance. This disturbing sexual duality that does not extend up to hermaphroditism loses its mystery when considering that the Buddhist figures express virtues instead of characters.