This sculpture of a Guanyin is unusually posed, almost lounging back on the right arm against a low seat while casually resting the left arm on the right knee, The right leg is pressed down, parallel with the floor. This contrasts with the haughty facial expression and regal mien of the upper body. The Guanyin is dressed in long, flowing robes that hang in pleats below the level of the figure's base, as well as an additional garment (possibly a dhoti) tied off around the waist. The hands protrude rather languidly from long sleeves, and are arranged in meditative positions. The figure is also wearing an ornate necklace. The face is exquisitely carved and conveys a decidedly aristocratic expression, with half-closed eyes beneath elevated eyebrows, a small, pursed mouth and rounded cheeks.
Beautifully modeled white marble lion sitting on a double lotus throne. The lion is not an indigenous animal to China, but it was introduced later in connection with Buddhism, figuring as the defender of law and protector of buildings. It is an emblem of valor and energy that were considered essential to the cultivation of wisdom.
The Chinese lion, despite its big eyes and fierce countenance, is not treated as the supreme predatory animal--a position, rather, held by the tiger which flourishes in the northern hinterland and evokes fear in the hearts and imagination of Chinese people.
This particular piece is remarkable for its facial morphology, which may be designed to imply that he is not Chinese, and is instead a native of Central Asia towards the fringes of the Tang imperial territories. It must be remembered that Chinese physiognomy - rather high cheekbones, narrow eyes with epicanthic folds, dark hair and delicate features - is usually exaggerated in their funerary arts. There is no possibility that this figure depicts someone of Chinese origin. The face is very pale, with an extremely broad chin, a broad nose with widely-spaced nostrils. The eyes are very large and round, with pale irises, and a similarly broad and down-turned mouth. The brows are marked, the ears protuberant and the cheekbones lower than might be expected for the depiction of a Chinese character.
The Barakat Gallery, 421 North Rodeo Drive, Beverly Hills, CA 90210