Meet me at the Guanyin in Saint Louis

When I first spotted this statue of Guanyin from afar, I knew I had found the piece in the Saint Louis Art Museum I would gladly risk prison for.  So I got closer…and closer…

and closer till I was standing before this bodhisattva of compassion.  I could have sworn that his chest then gently inflated.   It was as if my brain could not comprehend how such a beautiful body with such a gentle face could not actually be alive.  So my brain ‘saw’ this 11th-century wooden statue  breathe.

When I visited this Guanyin again recently,  I spotted a student sitting on the floor in the corner, staring.  When I mentioned the bit about the statue having seemed to breathe on my last visit, he did not bat an eye.  “Yeah, I can see how that might happen.  Your attention  goes immediately to his chest,” he said, his eyes on Guanyin.    As I left the gallery, I cast one last look back to take with me as much as I could without setting off the alarm.

2 thoughts on “Meet me at the Guanyin in Saint Louis

  1. Lovely. Is his right hand actually larger — in other words, does the statue augment the effects of foreshortening? Or is that all in the photography? Lighting is beautiful.

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