It was not until the publication of Helen Chapin's paper, 'Yunnanese Images of Avalokitesvara', Harvard Journal of Asiatic Studies, vol. 8 (1944-5), pp. 131-186, pls. 3-6, that a group of bronzes in Western collections was identified as being of Yunnanese origin, based on her study of a scroll painting known as the Long Scroll of Buddhist Images by the 12th century Yunnanese artist Zhang Shengwen.
In the late 1970's, restoration work at the Qianxun Pagoda, Yunnan province, uncovered a reliquary deposit which included a gold standing Guanyin similar in style to those bronzes in the West and to the present figure. The gold figure with its silver mandorla is illustrated by A. Lutz, 'Buddhist Art in Yunnan', Orientations, February 1992, p. 49, fig. 6. The article goes on to identify the figure as 'Acouye Guanyin' (Ajaya Avalokitesvara: All Victorious Guanyin), who, according to legend, was an Indian monk who visited Yunnan in the seventh century as an incarnation of Guanyin.
According to W. Zwalf in the catalogue for the exhibition, Buddhism: Art and Faith, British Museum, 1985, p. 206, no. 297, these figures were made as talismans for the royal family.
Similar figures are in a number of museums and collections including the Metropolitan Museum of Art; the Brooklyn Museum; the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco; the National Palace Museum, Taipei; the Victoria and Albert Museum; The Sumitomo Collection, Japan; the Yunnan Provincial Museum; the Musée Guimet and the Freer Gallery of Art. These last two examples are illustrated by H. Munsterberg, Chinese Buddhist Bronzes, Vermont and Japan, 1967, pls. 58 and 59. Both Chapin and Munsterberg discuss the Indian influences visible in these figures: the bare chest, slender body, tight-fitting skirt and conical hair treatment. Lutz, also, op.cit, p. 48, refers to these bronzes as the "only sculptural form in Yunnan whose origins can be traced back to Southeast Asia".
See, also, the similar gilt-bronze figure sold in these rooms, 20 September 2002, lot 193 and another sold at Sotheby's, New York, 21 September 2001, lot 29. A rare seated version of this figure with similar patina was also sold in these rooms, 18 September 2003, lot 170.