While the present piece is unusual in its size, falling as it does between the life-size figures, and the altar-top representations, it may be compared sylistically to a number of examples in western museum collections. See the wood Guanyin dated 12th to 13th century in the City Art Museum, St. Louis, illustrated by Laurence Sickman and Alexander Soper, The Art and Architecture of China, Middlesex, 1956, pl. 80a, and illustrated in color in The Saint Louis Art Museum Handbook of the Collections, St. Louis Art Museum, 1991, p. 31. Compare, also, the life-size figure of Guanyin with a more rounded chest area dated 12th or 13th century, originally from Shanxi and now in the Rijksmuseum, Amsterdam, illustrated by William Watson, Style in the Arts of China, Middlesex, 1974, no. 72, and again by the same author in Art of Dynastic China, New York, 1987, no. 449. See, also, the heavier figure of a Guanyin dated to the 12th century, in the Asian Art Museum, San Francisco, Watson, op. cit., 1987, p. 195, no. 94.
It is probable that this is a representation of the water and moon Guanyin on a rocky platform, and its original setting would have been a "rockwork grotto" amid "bamboo", "water" and other "vegetation" in a temple, with a "jade maiden" and boy attendant. For a more elaborate representation of the water and moon Guanyin dated to the 11th/12th century, see The Nelson-Atkins Museum, A Handbook of the Collections, New York, 1993, p. 310, top right
Stylistically, this figure is a good representation of the post-Tang, more feminine type of Guanyin, shown in a more relaxed and humanistic mode