Avalokitesvara, bronze figure from Kurkihar, Bihar, 9th century; in Patna …—Courtesy of Patna Museum, Patna (Bihar); photograph, Royal Academy of Arts, London

Bodhisattva of infinite compassion and mercy, the most popular of Mahayana Buddhist deities. He is the earthly manifestation of Amitabha, guarding the world between the departure of the historical Buddha, Gautama, and the appearance of the future Buddha, Maitreya. He is the creator of the fourth world, the actual living universe. In China and Japan his gender became ambiguous; he is sometimes called a goddess. For Pure Land Buddhists, he forms a ruling triad with Amitabha and the bodhisattva Mahasthamaprapta. In Tibetan Buddhism, he is thought to be reincarnated in each Dalai Lama in order to preserve buddha-teaching.


Avalokitesvara Chinese Guanyin Japanese Kannon

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