This sculptural form of the tantric Avalokitesvara appeared as early as the 10th century, and can be seen on a carving of a standing multi-armed bodhisattva dated to the Northern Song dynasty (960-1127), in the Dinglongxing Temple, Hebei province, illustrated in Guanyin Baoxiang (Guanyin Treasured Images), Shanghai, 1998, p. 99.
A Qing dynasty example of a gilt-bronze tantric multi-armed and multi-headed Guanyin seated on a high lotus throne, although of more slender form is illustrated in Buddhist Images in Gilt Metal, Chang Foundation, Taipei, 1993, p. 87, no. 36. See, also, the comparable gilt-bronze Qing dynasty example illustrated in Guanyin Baoxiang, op. cit., p. 301, where the figure is described as a 'thousand armed Guanyin'.
Two Ming dynasty gilt-bronze examples of this type, although of smaller size (50.2 cm. and 32 cm. high respectively) were sold Sotheby's, Hong Kong, 1-2 December 1992, lot 200, and Christie's, Hong Kong, 29-30 October 1995, lot 648. It is interesting to note that while bronze examples of this tantric form of Avalokitesvara are well-documented, large dry lacquer examples such as the current lot appear to be quite rare.