Tuesday, June 1, 2010

Kwan Yin

This is an 11th or 12th century Chinese statue of Kwan-Yin, the Bodhisattva of the water and the moon, in the Kansas City Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art.

Kwan-Yin is in a room that is my favorite place in the world, thus far at least. The entire room is filled with Asian artifacts, but the very far end of the room where Kwan-Yin sits is special. There is a large temple gateway that leads to a cold, quiet room where Kwan-Yin sits at the far end, in the center, with smaller statues to either side. (Those other statues seem to be gone in this photo; as the room was being renovated a few months ago, it has perhaps been re-lit and reorganized since I was last there.)

Behind Kwan-Yin is a painted mural wall from another temple, the mural known as Paradise of Tejraprabha Buddha (or Tejaprabha Buddha) and dates about 1279-1368. A similar mural is at the University of Pennsylvania. You can see the wall was cut into large chunks and reassembled later. It's so dark when you visit this part of the museum that you can't see the wall very well, which is what struck me about this photo. I hope this means the restoration is complete and the gallery is now open again.

However, I do have an old postcard, which always hangs on my wall because of my love of Kwan-Yin and of this room, and I scanned the postcard so you could see the detail in the painting:

But even if you're there in person, you can't see this detail well.

It's so beautiful, but it's also so sad, because I believe the wall and statue(s) were taken through some of the fabulously egocentric Western appropriation techniques that archaeology is so famous for.

Update 06/11/10 -- Comments turned off because of spammers. Sheesh.