August 04, 2011

Buddhist Headgear Identification

(click on the pictures to enlarge)

Have a look at this Ming dynasty stucco figure, seated in lotus position!
In general such figures are simply addressed as ‘dignitary’ so a very vague description.

This figure does have a kind of religious pose with a downward internal gaze, typical of religious deities. It is Buddhist in nature because of the long ear lobes and the robe with lines and squares (signifying rice fields) that echoes the patchwork garb of the historical Buddha. The figure could be Guanyin (the bodhisattva Avalokiteshvara) because of the simultaneous male and female expression in the face. However lacking typical accessories (like a vase), inscriptions or hand gestures but wearing this atypical hat, this is far from certain. The hat may provide the best clue as to who this figure might be.

I am uncertain whether some kind of flap is attached to the hat or that the hat is on top of a separate headscarf? I think the first option; an integrated piece?

The last picture is showing a hole near the ear (on both sides). They are ca 0.5 CM deep, possibly an anchor point. Jewellery maybe or perhaps attachment point for tufts of hair. Some Chinese statues were dressed up including hair, moustaches etc.

Can anybody help and knows which kind of headgear this deity is wearing?

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