The Journey

Banner Representing Avalokiteshvara (Guanyin Pusa) Attended by Two Donors

  • 21
  • China, Gansu Province, Dunhuang
  • Tang period, ca. 9th century
  • Painted banner; ink and colors on silk
  • H. 37 1/2 x W. 24 5/16 in. (95.3 x 61.8 cm)
  • Harvard Art Museum, Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Second Fogg Expedition to China Fund, 1925.12
  • Dunhuang
Find it on the Interactive Map

Many Buddhist pilgrims passed through Dunhuang and other surrounding temples and monasteries, which were located on the silk route between Kashgar and the Chinese capital of Chang'an. This banner was likely painted to be used by a donor as a gift to adorn a Dunhuang temple wall, thereby increasing the merit of the giver. Both the bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara and the male donor depicted on this banner offer incense from metal incense burners. For many Asian pilgrims, burning incense is a means of making contact with the deity. In Chinese the phrase that means "to go on pilgrimage" is chaoshan jinxiang, literally, "paying one's respects to a mountain" and "presenting incense."

PHOTO CREDIT: Katya Kallsen © President and Fellows of Harvard College

©2009 Asia Society 725 Park Avenue at 70th Street New York, NY 10021: