During the Korean Goryeo Dynasty (918-1392), paintings of Water-moon? ?Avalokiteshvara were very popular due to the calm and peaceful depictions of the bodhisattva. The defining features of such paintings are the round face, plump body, the intricate designs on the robe, and the seat which is covered in gold and green. However, the most striking aspect appears to be the form of the bodhisattva being which gives it the title water-moon. Avalokiteshvara is a symbolism of compassion, a pure figure which is comparable to the characteristics of the moon. With the use of vivid colors that focused on Avalokiteshvara and the shimmering, translucent veil, the figure can be seen as a reflection of light which diminishes dark beings.
The painting in its entirety revolves around the idea of purity, with the willow tree, clear stream of water, and Sudhana to symbolize this. To the left, the willow represents Avalokiteshvara’s ability to cure numerous types of illnesses, giving the divine being the title as the great healer. We can also identify Sudhana as the being on the bottom left who seems as if he is communicating with Avalokiteshvara. The bodhisattva’s attention is directed towards Sudhana as his head is looking downwards at the youth who’s on his knees.
This indicates that Sudhana is also important and that he plays a role in Buddhist beliefs. The restorations of the painting, reveals that both sides of the silk were used to support the multitude of colors, gold pigments, and transitions of shades. In addition, large quantities of silk were highly utilized to help enhance the hues and luminous aspects of the work. Although faded, it’s clear that the background is depicted with the use of gold pigments, azurites, and malachites.
The figure ties together Buddhist traditions within Korea and East Asia, helping to develop several differences of the style in the painting.