A Gilt Bronze Guanyin from the Nanzhao Kingdom of Yunnan: Hybrid Art from the Southwestern Frontier

Angela Falco Howard
Walters Art Gallery, 1990 vol. 48 pp. 1--12
Online version

Two major aspects of the Walters gilt bronze Guanyin are considered: its place of origin and date. The provenance is established by its similarity with the art of Yunnan, where the importance of the cult of Guanyin determined novel stylistic and iconographic features. The execution of the work is ascribed to the Nanzhao Kingdom, to the last part of the ninth century. This attribution is based on two historical factors: First is the consolidation of Buddhist teaching, which reached Yunnan from the southwest and was vigorously supported by the Nanzhao royal family. Second is the raid on Chengdu, the Sichuan capital, in the winter of 829/30, which resulted in an influx of skilled craftsmen to Yunnan.