This figure belongs to the late Northern Qi or early Sui period. Of particular note is the relatively simple treatment of the jewelled garland crossing under a beaded disc over the accompanying scarves that cross and rise again and wind around the wrists. The double circles at the shoulders, partially obscured in this example by the pendant folds of the headress, are also a prominent feature peculiar to this group of sculptures. An example from the Cincinnati Art Museum is illustrated in Hai-Wai Yi-Chen, Chinese Art in Overseas Collections, Buddhist Sculpture, (II), pl. 85.
Another example dated Northern Qi/Sui Dynasty with a yet more simplified garland and more prominent circles on the shoulders was sold in our Hong Kong Rooms, 28 April 1996, lot 563. The treatment of the lowered left hand with fleshy back and fingers is identical although the leaf-shaped attribute has been lost. The present example also retains the characteristic parallel linear treatment of the drapery arranged over the feet as decorative folds so typical of the style. This simplification of the surface to emphasise sculptural mass can also be seen in the figure from the Museum für Ostasiatische Kunst, Berlin, illustrated in ibid., pl. 50.
The present Guanyin is carved with a less reserved expression than the Hong Kong example but with a more pronounced smile and the fringe is divided into five visible segments rather than a simple centre parting, characteristics which recall the examples from Shaanxi, dated Northern Zhou (557-581), cf. Oswald Siren, Chinese Sculpture, vol.I, Bangkok, 1998, pl.265A and B.