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Kwan Yin is known as the Chinese Goddess of Compassion, or "she who hears the cries of the world".  Some religious historians have compared her to Mary, the mother of Jesus in the Christian belief system.  She is also compared to the Tibetan saint, Tara.  She is widely known and very popular throughout the Buddhist community in Asia but depending on the country, Kwan Yin will be referred to variously as Guanyin, Kannon (Japan), Kwan Um (Vietnam), Chenrezig (Tibet) and Avalokitevara (Sanskit).  

We often see her depicted as a beautiful Asian woman holding a small vase or bowl that represents growth.  Historians tell us that Kwan Yin has been shown in female form since the Tang Dynasty.  Prior to that in India, the figure was depicted as the Buddha of Compassion, a male figure.  Kwan Yin has a home in China on Potala Mountain, near the city of Ningpo, in Chechiang Province on the East China Sea.  One legend exists in which a Japanese monk took a statue of Kwan Yin from central China to bring back with him to Japan, but near this island, his boat stopped moving and he took this as a sign that the statue should remain in China.  Today, the island of Potala is dotted with temples dedicated to Kwan Yin. 

What do we know about the role of this famous figure in the Buddhist tradition?  In the Buddhist tradition, the role of Kwan Yin is as a bodhisattva, which is a being who has delayed her own enlightenment and who has vowed to continue in the cycle of birth, death, and re-birth until all beings are enlightened.  Her goal is to liberate all beings and to end suffering.  It is common to see another symbol for wisdom, strength, transformation and deep spirituality - the dragon - pictured along with Kwan Yin. 

Kwan Yin has long been one of the most popular goddess figures in the eastern world.  There is a popular Chinese saying goes: "Everyone knows how to chant Amitabha Buddha, and every household worships Kwan Yin."  The growing interest in Eastern spirituality, coupled with the women's movement and interest in goddess-centered spirituality have brought the figure of Kwan Yin to the west. 

Kwan Yin is an accessible figure and there is not much dogma or ritual associated with developing a relationship with the Queen of Mercy, as she is also known.  One of the reasons she may be so popular is that she is depicted in female form and is reminiscent of the feminine qualities of compassion, empathy and unconditional love of a mother.  She is the embodiment of pure, perfect compassion for every being, everywhere without exception.  There are many stories and anecdotes of people who have simply called upon her for help - and have received her blessings in the form of assistance with the life issues they were dealing with. 

Kwan Yin has the ability to transform herself into any form - a child or a monk or a king if the occasion merits it!  She is said to take the form that will make it easiest for us to relate to her, so she can teach us and guide us along the path to liberation.  It is said that any living being who calls her name will be free from fear and danger.  Additionally, Kwan Yin will awaken a person's spiritual awareness within them.  What Kwan Yin provides us, among other things, is an example of how we can better treat each other.  There is a saying in Buddhism, "First you cultivate compassion, and then compassion cultivates you."  Kwan Yin calls out to that part in all of us that aspires to treat our neighbors as we ourselves would like to be treated.  Compassion for our fellow man is a concept that is universal and found in all religious doctrines but owned by none. 


 

The Great Wall of China The Forbidden City
The Terracotta Army Along the Silk Road
 
Dragon & Phoenix ~ Silk Embroidery
Silk Embroidery
Gold Leaf Painted ~ 10 Inch Turnip Vase
Gold Leaf Lacquer
Pair of 10 Inch Closionne Vases
Cloisonne
Pair of Brass Foo Dogs
Brass & Bronze
Inside Painted Boxes
 
 

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