The South Sea Guanyin is a form of the bodhisattva Avalokitesvara particular to Chinese Buddhism. The legend explains that a young woman by the name of Miaoshan was martyred and transformed into a manifestation of Avalokitesvara for her piety, and thereafter resided at her South Sea island abode, Potalaka. For a further discussion of the South Sea Guanyin see Kaikodo Journal, Spring 2000, pp. 224-5, no. 73, from the collection of Stanley Herzman, later sold in these rooms, 20 September 2002, lot 308. Another example, very similar to the present shrine, is illustrated fig. 1, p. 224.
See, also, a shrine of larger size in the Illustrated Catalogue of the Tokyo National Museum: Chinese Ceramics, II, Tokyo, 1990, p. 20, no. 520; and another illustrated in Porcelains from the Tianjin Municipal Museum, Hong Kong, 1993, no. 68.