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Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara Of The Lion’s Roar

1439 words - 6 pages

The wood stone carved statue of the Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara sitting upon a lion has gone through many depictions when passed down from India to China. One possible depiction can be representing the lack of identity for a woman while the opponent power, a male influence, restricts that. The sculpted art was created in the late fourteenth to fifteenth century exemplifying an exterior beauty supported by his high cheekbones and a rounded chin below the blushed red perked lips to shape a feminine beauty of the typical Chinese woman. Grounding the bodhisattva’s body to sit atop the lion was the masculine chest followed by the clenched bulky feet. This can demonstrate the suppressing of the woman’s abstract mind to the male’s physicality to be presented in a society as something further depreciated. Nevertheless, it is showing that the body of the bodhisattva to have an unstable gender identity. Observing male-female conflict, the lion sitting on the bottom is shown with a braid-like symbol on its neck that controls the way it can turn its head, such as a dog wears a leash to be in the boundaries of its owner. This is probably to neglect the sight of female intelligence being able to move forward as the mechanics of a human body does.

Furthermore, the position of the legs has one on the lion and the other leg that rests on the pedestal. This can mean one leg being forced to stay in this type of conformity while the other wants to walk towards something that enables it some type of freedom. In fact, “…, the raised right and pendant lower leg are often found in representations of the Bodhisattva Alalokiteshvara, who takes the well-known Water Moon form, in China the most popular manifestation of this bodhisattva after the tenth century” (Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara of the Lion’s Roar or Shimhanada Avalokiteshvara [Shi hou Guanyin Pusa, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000). Chinese mythology states the Water Moon form allowed the bodhisattva to physically transform into a woman goddess being renamed as the Guanyin to bear children for women who did not have any of their own, only allowing them only sons. “The form of… Avalokiteshvara had melded with popular Chinese manifestations… as the ‘bestower of sons’” (Bodhisattva Avalokiteshara of the Lion’s Roar or Shimhanada Avalokiteshvara [Shi hou Guanyin Pusa, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, 2000).

Avalokiteshvara’s mythical story proved “women in the 19th-century China followed gender norms classed by Western scholars as Confucian or Neo-Confucian” (Western Views of Chinese Women Intro., Women in World History: Module 10). A woman’s place was to take care of a man and his needs, it was a laborious job doing nothing more but having no ambitions to have independence in her life. The greatest ambition in a woman’s life at the time was to get married to whom her father chose for her to eventually bear a son. “A girl gained more respect in her husband’s family if...

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