This Independent Study is an art historical analysis of both paintings and sculptures to analyze the gender transformation of the bodhisattva Guanyin (Avalokiteśvara) in Imperial China. By focusing on the feminine and androgynous forms and/or manifestations of Guanyin represented in art, I analyze and compare the various gendered-specific representational conventions that the artists use to portray the bodhisattva's gradual feminization and gender transformation process. The purpose of this Independent Study is to demonstrate that the gender transformation of Guanyin, the bodhisattva of compassion, was the result of Chinese cultural and religious beliefs about gender and sexuality. This Independent Study will prove the importance and impact that gender representational conventions had within the confines of Guanyin's gender transformation and religious worship in China.


Presciutti, Diana

Second Advisor

Wang, Rujie


Art and Art History


History of Art, Architecture, and Archaeology | Theory and Criticism

Publication Date


Degree Granted

Bachelor of Arts

Document Type

Senior Independent Study Thesis



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