Bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara in Water Moon Form (Shuiyue Guanyin), dated 1385, Ming dynasty (1368–1644). Wood (willow) with gesso and traces o. H. 76.8 cm, W. 45.7 cm, D. 34.3 cm. Anonymous Gift, in memory of Edward Robinson, 53.196a, b. © 2000–2023 The Metropolitan Museum of Art.

This powerful figure belongs to a small group of wooden sculptures that can be securely dated, owing to an inscription that also provides rare information regarding its production and intended use. The inscription appears on the interior surface of a removable panel in the figure’s back that gives access to a chamber that once contained consecratory material. It states that the sculpture was carved in 1385 under the direction of a certain Xin Zhongwen, who, together with members of Dongan village, commissioned the piece. It also names two artists—Feng Xiaozhong, “Woodcarver-in-Attendance,” and his son—and explains that the sculpture was created for a temple and to serve as a guardian of a road.