This figure is an excellent example of the achievement of the Dehua porcelain sculptor.

The face has a calm, delicate dignity but our eyes are led up to it along a zigzag line from the craggy rockwork through the boldly-sweeping folds of the robe. The Dehua kilns of Fujian province on China's south-east coast have produced a translucent, lustrous, warm off-white porcelain, known in Europe as blanc de Chine, since the early seventeenth century. Appreciated for these qualities of paste and glaze, it was an ideal medium for small-scale sculpture in which press-moulds were used together with freehand modelling. The right thumb has probably been broken as part of an ex voto ritual. Guan Yin is a Bodhisattva, (a superhuman being who has renounced Buddhahood to remain in this world and help other living beings), whose images were regularly damaged in this way when a prayer was granted.


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