Education Collections Anthropology
Guanyin, shortened from Guanshiyin, is a bodhisattva most closely associated with compassion. A bodhisattva, translated from Sanskrit, is an “Enlightenment-Being,” someone who is on the journey of becoming “Awakened” but has not yet reached “Enlightenment.” Guanshiyin, whose name means “Observing the Sounds (or Cries) of the World,” is said to have turned away from the gates of Nirvana in order to save the sentient beings of the world, no matter how small or large they may be, from reincarnation. A Buddhist story tells of how Guanyin’s head split into 11 pieces trying to comprehend the needs of the world. Amitabha Buddha, seeing her situation, gave her 11 heads so that she could hear and comprehend these needs. Soon, though Guanyin found that she didn’t not have enough hands to help all those who requested her assistance, Amitabha Buddha once again came to her aid and gave her a thousand arms and hands to aid those in need. Among Chinese Buddhists, Guanyin is immensely popular and is seen as a bringer of unconditional love.
The semiprecious stone that we refer as jade is actually one of two different metamorphic minerals formed deep in Earth’s crust, under heat and pressure, but not in the liquid mantle. Jadeite, or imperial jade is usually darker green and is primarily found in Myanmar and is a pyroxene that is rich in sodium and aluminum. Nepherite on the other hand is usually lighter and made up of interlocking calcium and magnesium-iron fibers. Nepherite is usually a little softer than jadite, which has a hardness similar to that of quartz. Both forms of jade can be artificially enhanced and have been throughout history. The apple-green piece pictured here has most likely been enhanced. This is usually done by a color-enhancing dye, similar to those purple and pink geodes you see in rock shops.
Evelyn Busch, MA
Collections Manager of Education Collections, Health Sciences and Scientific Instruments
Assistant Collections Manager of Education Collections and Health Sciences
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