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Guanyin, the Goddess of Mercy. Excavated at the Tem Thousand Buddha Pagoda in Hunhua county, Zhejiang Province, in 1958. Five Dynasties, 907 - 960 CE. Gilt bronze, total height 77.7 cm, National Museum of Chinese History, Beijing. © The Israel Museum

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Detail: close up. Guanyin, the Goddess of Mercy. Excavated at the Tem Thousand Buddha Pagoda in Hunhua county, Zhejiang Province, in 1958, Five Dynasties, 907 - 960 CE. Gilt bronze, total height 77.7 cm, National Museum of Chinese History, Beijing. © The Israel Museum.

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Detail: close up. Guanyin, the Goddess of Mercy. Excavated at the Tem Thousand Buddha Pagoda in Hunhua county, Zhejiang Province, in 1958, Five Dynasties, 907 - 960 CE. Gilt bronze, total height 77.7 cm, National Museum of Chinese History, Beijing. © The Israel Museum.

Buddhism arrived in China in the first century CE from India, transmitted along the trade routes by Buddhist traders.
 
When pagodas were erected, Buddhist relics were usually buried in their foundations, and many treasures have been discovered during the restoration or demolition of pagodas. This Buddhist gilt bronze sculpture was found in a pagoda. It depicts the bodhisattva Guanyin, the goddess of mercy, seated on a rock in the pose called "royal ease," a beautifully wrought halo framing her elegant figure.

Exhibition 'China: One Hundred Treasures', Jerusalem, August 14, 2001 - January 15, 2002