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Water-Moon Avalokiteśvara with attendants and guardian deities, Niche 133, Beishan Rock Carvings (北山石刻) Anderl, Christoph


This niche is located in Beishan Rock Carvings (北山石刻), Fowan (佛灣), Dazu (大足) District, Chongqing. The central wall depicts a statue of Water-Moon Avalokiteśvara/ Water-Moon Guanyin (Chinese: Shuiyue Guanyin 水月觀音). The bodhisattva wears a large headdress, of which the upper part is damaged, with floral patterns and ribbons hanging on both sides. The necklace of jade and pearls is gorgeous and covers the upper body. A long sash with jewellery patterns connects the bodhisattva’s left shoulder with the right abdomen and is tied in a knot before the chest. The skirt is also decorated with jewellery on the lower legs. The bodhisattva is seated on a Sumeru throne in a Lalitasana posture with the left leg crossed and the right leg bent. The right arm leans on the right knee; however, the hand is lost. The left hand holds a string of prayer beads resting on the left thigh. A peach-shaped halo trimmed with flame motifs is depicted behind the bodhisattva’s head. Additionally, a screen with landscape patterns is carved at the back of the bodhisattva, and a water vase is shown on its left edge. A pair of standing attendants flanks the bodhisattva. The left one is a male dressed in layperson attire, holding a plate with a rockwork. Although the signboard identifies this attendant as Sudhana, this is uncertain. The attendant on the right side is a female with a similar setting. However, the offering in her hands is damaged. The left side wall contains two standing guardian deities wearing warrior attire and wrathful facial expressions. The outer one is three-faced and six-armed, wearing a crown decorated with a winged beast. The pair of upper arms hold a dharma wheel trimmed with flame patterns and containing a small Buddha figure in the middle. The middle arms carry a lance with the knife carved on the niche's outer frame. The left bottom hand grips a shawl while the right holds a vajra in front of the chest. The inner deity has four arms. The upper left hand holds an axe, while the right hand has a whip. The lower left hand rests before the chest with its palm facing upward, and the right hand carries a sword. The setting of the left side wall is similar to that of the right side. The outer deity is three-face-six-armed with a mirror on the upper left hand, a truncheon-like object on the upper left hand, a noose on the lower left hand and a sword on the lower right hand. The pair of middle arms holds a trident with its head carved on the outer niche frame. The middle left forearm and part of the trident are damaged. The inner deity is four-armed. A bowl with a dragon is placed in the deity’s upper left hand, while the upper right hand has a sabre. The lower left hand carries an axe with a phoenix hand, and the right hand rests before the chest with its palm facing upward. The Signboard mentions that the niche is dated back to the Shao Xing 紹興 reign (1131-1162 CE) of the Southern Song dynasty. Descriptions of the photos: Overview of the Signboard [1] Overview of the niche [2] Close-up of the Water-Moon Avalokiteśvara [3, 4] Close-up of the right side wall [5] Close-up of the left side wall [6] Metadata created by: Sau Ling Wendy Yu.

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