La province du Yunnan était sous la domination du Royaume de Dali de 937 à 1253. Peu d'exemples de l'Art Bouddhique, très populaire au Yunnan, ont survécu. Parmi ces quelques témoignages figurent des représentations d'Avalokitesvara fortement influencées par le Bouddhisme de l'Inde. Les rares sculptures de Bouddhas montrent, elles, une nette influence chinoise. Ainsi, sur le Bouddha présenté ici retrouve-t-on des éléments iconographiques et stylistiques des sculptures Tang et Liao. Cette pièce est cependant très proche des exemples en bronze ou en pierre retrouvés au Yunnan et datant du 10ème au 12ème siècle.
The Dali Kingdom ruled over the Yunnan province of present China from 937 to 1253, before conquered by the Monghols. Buddhism was very popular in Yunnan as can be detected by the surviving bronze figures of Avalokitesvara which still adorn private and public collections around the world and which are often described as "The Luck of Yunnan". Interestingly, these figures representing Avalokitesvara show Indian and Southeast Asian influences while the known Buddha examples display various style characteristics, but are yet all based on a Chinese Buddhist sculptural tradition.
The present figure embodies the Dali iconographic style which is a mix between Central China and Yunnan Province traditions.
Thus, the curly hair, the garment covering both shoulders are mid Tang formulae. Likewise, the wooden material with these very special red and gold lacquer layers applied to imitate bronze sculpture which can be found on several examples of Avalokitesvara from Yunnan, are also distinctive traits of a Chinese Tang Guanyin figure belonging to the Metropolitan Museum of Art and illustrated in Hai-Wai Yi-Chen, Chinese Art in Overseas Collections, Buddhist Sculpture I, The National Palace Museum, Taipei 1986, p.104, pl.99.
The elongated torso and the facial expressions appear to be influences from the Liao dynasty. A good comparison is a bronze Buddha from Liao dynasty kept at the Cleveland Museum of Art and illustrated in Hai-Wai Yi-Chen, Chinese Art in Overseas Collections, Buddhist Sculpture II, The National Palace Museum, Taipei 1990, pl.136. The Buddha is accomplishing this special dhyanamudra (with two fingers raised) which is a distinctive trait of the one under discussion. This mudra appears also on a relief from the Shizhong temple, illustrated in A. Lutz (ed.), Der Goldschartz der Drei Pagoden, Museum Rietberg, Zurich 1991, p.48, Abb.26
This figure can be compared to a very close example made of bronze from the excavation site of Dafengle in Dali carried out by the Yunnan Archeological Institute between 1993 and 1996 (refer to Da Li Da Fengle, Yunnan Ke Zhi Zhu Pan Shi (ed.), May 2002, HZM381:1.