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Kuan Yin Guan Yin Chinese Goddess


Who Is Kuan Yin

There are several ways to spell the Chinese name of this Buddhist Diety: Kuan Yin, Guan Yin, Guanyin, Kwan Yin, Guan Yen. She has other names in other languages.

I remember the first time I encountered an image of Kuan Yin. It was many years ago, before I had heard the name of Kuan Yin, I walked through a doorway in the Museum and felt this much larger than life Kuan Yin (see the photo) gazing down at me and it took my breath away. I sat down on the wooden bench in front of her for some length of time, not wanting to leave this enchanted presence. I watched as people came into the room and saw them experience the same reverence that I had at once felt. Even small children hushed their chatter as they entered her presence and could not take their eyes away from her.

In the following years, I have returned to this place of magic many times. It never loses it's enchantment.

This photo was taken by me.

Guanyin of the Southern Sea

Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

Among Buddhist statues exhibited in the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, Missouri, is this 11th/12th-century C.E. polychrome wooden Avalokiteshvara, Seated Gaunyin Bodhisattva, internationally heralded as the finest sculpture of its kind outside China.

11th-12th century Chinese

Wood with paint, 95 x 65 inches (241.3 x 165.1 cm)


Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, Missouri Gallery 230

Seated Gaunyin Bodhisattva

The Kuan Yin Chronicles: The Myths and Prophecies of the Chinese Goddess of Compassion

This book introduces Kuan Yin to Western readers, and reveals that Kuan Yin is the mystery and power of the divine feminine, who transcends all doctrines, creeds, and traditions. It cover the origins and evolution of Kuan Yin in early China, Buddhism, Taoism, and shamanism, and includes the myths and stories about Kuan Yin and poetry.

Kuan Yin by gmeador

Kuan Yin by gmeador

Kuan Yin by gmeador

Seated In The Posture Of Royal Ease

Guanyin of the Southern Sea also called Nanhai Guanyin.

"The Bodhisattva Guanyin, [Kuan Yen, Kwan Yin] the Chinese Buddhist deity of compassion and mercy," in the above photo "is seated in the posture of royal ease on a simulated outcropping of craggy, perforated rock."

"The position of the Guanyin, one leg in pendant, conveys the impression that the Bodhisavatta might at any moment rise from a state of deep contemplation and step down from the carved lotus rest."

photo cc by gmeador

Kuan Yin by gmeador

kuan yin gmeador

kuan yin gmeador

The Bodhisavatta's "worldly ornaments, such as the high tiara and rich necklaces in sumptuous detail, contrast with the more plain image of the Buddha, whose markings indicate his ethereal status. The soft skin and contour, charm of bearing and beguiling smile create an aura of femininity."

What is a bodhisattva? The bodhisattva, a popular subject in Buddhist art, is someone who does spiritual practice with the goal of achieving full enlightenment, but who who is still subject to birth, illness, death, sorrow, defilement, and delusion.

Just before arriving at the point of enlightment, she turns back into the world and says, "No, I will not achieve liberation until all beings have been set free." Then she steps into the world and works to alleviate suffering and to awaken beings to their true nature.

"A bodhisattva is one who has a determination to free sentient beings from samsara and its cycle of death, rebirth and suffering. This type of mind is known as the mind of awakening"

Guanyin of Moon and Water - Shuiyue Guanyin

The concept of the Shuiyue Guanyin arose from the eminent Tang poet Bai Juyi's poem "Ode to the portrait of Shuiyue Guanyin" expressing his devotion for the "Moon's reflection in Water form of Guanyin" (Shuiyue Guanyin).

The poem reads as follows:

Floating in water, Clean and pure,

As if hiding In the white light.

When I set my sight All egos are vanishing.

Your disciple Bai Juyi With devotion under your feet.

You are my cynosure Life after life forever.

She is, first of all, the pre-eminent goddess in all of Asia. You find her in China, Korea, Japan, Vietnam, Burma, Thailand and other countries. Then, in the Buddhist tradition, she is the Celestial Bodhisattva of Compassion.

~Sandy Boucher

One of the most interesting elements of Kwan Yin's story is how she transformed from a male figure into a female one. She was brought to China in the fifth century as the male bodhisattva Avalokitesvara; in the next three hundred years she mysteriously transformed into the female Guan Shih Yin or Kwan Yin. How did that happen! Well, she came into the world embodied in actual flesh-and-blood women. There would be a child who was particularly kind and sweetly accepting, she would grow into a compassionate woman who did many good deeds for others; sometimes she would even sacrifice her life to save others. Then, after her death, through various magical signs, it would be understood that this had not been an ordinary woman but was a sacred being, the goddess Kwan Yin. Many stories in China relate this history, and that is why there are so many different forms of the Chinese Kwan Yin or Guan Shih Yin.

Source Sandy Boucher, Opening the Lotus

Click to order this beautiful Hand carved wooden Kwan Yin, Goddess of Mercy statue

Discovering Kwan Yin Buddhist Goddess of Compassion - By Sandy Boucher

This lovely, illustrated volume recounts the stories of this bodhisattva, explains Kwan Yin's role in Buddhism and includes meditations, chants, and prayers.

What is your interest in Kuan Yin?

Actually, anyone can be like Kuan Yin. You may say that you don't have a thousand eyes or a thousand arms or that you lack skilful means, but it is your compassion that can transform you into a Kuan Yin. With your eyes and hands, you can help others. With your compassion, you can bring peace and tranquility to this world.

Usually depicted glancing down symbolizing that Guan Yin continues to watch over the world.

Tibetan Wood Gilt Statue Seated Male Aspect Quan Yin

Antique and Collectible 1400-1450

This antique and collectible Bodhisattva Quan Yin the Compassionate is very very old (1400-1450).

Tibetan Wood Gilt Statue Seated Male Aspect Quan YinCHECK PRICE

Kuan Yin with Baby

Kuan Yin with Baby

Kuan Yin the Universal Mother

Kuan Yin, the Bodhisattva of Compassion, is shown here in the aspect of Universal Mother.

When a child plays on her lap, or children at her feet, they symbolize not only newborn and /or spiritual life, but also Mother Nature whose mysterious powers continually produce, sustain, destroy and renew life throughout the universe.

In China, Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva is represented in female form and is known as Kuan Yin. Probably because of Kuan Yin's great compassion, a quality which is traditionally considered feminine, most of the bodhisattva's statues in China since the Tang Dynasty (A.D. 618 - 907) have appeared as female figures. In India, however, the bodhisattva is generally represented as a male figure.

Click to order Kuan-Yin with Baby Statue, Stone

Read More About Kwan Yin

Terms to know:

Kuan Shih Yin - Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva

The Bodhisattva of Great Compassion

The Sanskrit name "Avalokiteshvara" means "the lord who looks upon the world with compassion".

Translated into Chinese, the name is "Kuan Shih Yin"or Quan Yin.

Kuan: observe

Shih: the world / the region of sufferers

Yin: all the sounds of the world, in particular, the crying sounds of beings, verbal or mental, seeking help

Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva is the embodiment of great compassion. He has vowed to free all sentient beings from suffering.

Source buddhanet.net

As long as you are kind and there is love in your heart A thousand hands will naturally come to your aid As long as you are kind and there is love in your heart You will reach out with a thousand hands to help others.

Thousand Hands and Eyes Avalokitesvara - Flickr photo by JasonDGreat



Thousand-Armed Bodhisattva

In Buddhist art, "Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva is sometimes shown with eleven heads, 1000 hands and eyes on the palms of each hand (Thousand-Armed Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva). The thousand eyes allow the bodhisattva to see the sufferings of sentient beings, and the thousand hands allow her to reach out to help them.

Sometimes, he is represented with one head and 4 arms. This is the Four-Armed Avalokiteshvara, worshipped by all Tibetans as "Chenrezig", the Holder of the White Lotus. It is in the male form which has two hands in the praying gesture while the other two hands hold his symbols, the Crystal Rosary and the Lotus Flower." Source buddhanet.net

Thousand-Hand Guan Yin

Kuan Yin Images

In her hands, Kuan Yin may hold a willow branch, a vase with water or occasionally, a lotus flower.

The willow branch is used to heal people's illnesses or bring fulfillment to their requests.

The water ( the dew of compassion) has the quality of removing suffering, purifying the defilements of our body, speech and mind, and lengthening life.

Guan Yin in Sydney - Flickr Photo by BotheredByBees

Guan Yin BotheredByBees

Guan Yin BotheredByBees

Kwan Yin also enjoys the wide popularity of a folk goddess.

Nanshan Park Guanyin Statue of Hainan - Flickr photo by lensmaster drs2biz


Currently the fourth tallest statue in the world, the Guanyin Statue of Hainan, also known as Guan Yin of the South Sea of Sanya, is a 108 metre tall statue of the bodhisattva. It is sited on the south coast of China's island province Hainan in the Nanshan Culture Tourism Zone near the Nanshan Temple west of Sanya. This aspect of the statue depicts Guanyin cradling a sutra in the left hand and gesturing the Vitarka Mudra with the right...

Other Sites About Kuan Yin

  • Asian Art Forums - Detail List
    Asian Art Forums Message Old Kuanyin or Kannon ( China & Japan ) Apr 07, 2006
  • KUAN-YIN LINEAGE OF REIKI, Origins and Meaning.
    Official Site KuanYin Reiki (TM)KUAN-YIN Lineage of Reiki EssentialReiki is Light and Harmony within and through all planes of being/reality. Origins of hands-on healing practices go back to the beginnings of spiritual culture, across most traditions
  • *** Quan Yin Virtual Altar ***
    B le s s Y o u, Q u a n Y i n!This page is a Virtual Altar dedicated to Quan Yin, Goddess of Mercy and Compassion. It serves to both honor Quan Yin and, as we believe she brought us together, to commemorate our marriage. In bringing us together Quan

"The Maitreya statue at Tashilunpo Monastery is huge!" - Photo by Kuanyin on Twitpic


Photo: http://twitpic.com/6h2tu

Tashilhunpo Monastery (Tibetan: founded in 1447 by Gendun Drup, the First Dalai Lama,[1] is a historic and culturally important monastery next to Shigatse, the second-largest city in Tibet. Wikipedia

Share Your Thoughts About Kuan Yin - I want to hear from you

patinkc (author) from Midwest on April 17, 2015:

Thanks for adding to the info about Kuan Yin! Much appreciated!

KenWu from Malaysia on March 18, 2015:

Great readings on Kuan Yin. Indeed, this Bodhisattva is the most revered one in Mahayana Buddhism practice. One thing I would like to add on top of your awesome facts is Kuan Yin or Avalokistesvara is one of the three saints of Amitabha Pureland. According to Pureland sutras, Avalokitesvara and Mahasthamaprapta are both the first students of Amitabha. You might want to check out this hub: https://hubpages.com/religion-philosophy/amitabha-...

LuizAvila on September 19, 2012:

Kuan Yin hears my tears every day!!! Namaste!!!

anonymous on August 15, 2012:

At our family house, we have statues of Kuan Yin on the altar for our ancestors. When I participated in group meditations at a healing center down South, I would sit next to the Kuan Yin statue. Her energy is beautiful and transcendent.

anonymous on July 08, 2012:

For me, i have never imagine the figure of Kuan Yin Phusat. I just feel and have Her in may inner part of my heart. What i have now is below to Her, when i am in difficulty, She always appears in my problem and help me to solve it. I cant describe how's Her big love works for me. But, i love Kuan Yin Phusat. Om Mani Padme Hum ( 108 x )

earthybirthymum from Ontario, Canada on October 30, 2011:

You have done a great job detailing all I find fascinating about Quan Yin. Thank you for such a great Lense.

Addy Bell on August 10, 2011:

Wonderful lens about Kuan Yin. *blessed*!

christopherlee lm on July 08, 2011:

I have to say that you have cover very on one of my favorite topic, thanks PatinC.

GreenfireWiseWo on June 15, 2011:

Very beautiful lens - I love Kwan Yin. Thank you.

anonymous on April 28, 2011:

This is a beautiful lens dedicated to a very special Goddess. Thank you for sharing these wonderful words and images.

jlshernandez on March 26, 2011:

My mother and I have always liked having a statue of Kuan Yin in our homes. She brings so much serenity into our surroundings. Thanks for sharing this wonderful lens. Blessed by a SquidAngel.

patinkc (author) from Midwest on February 18, 2011:

@Board-Game-Brooke: Thank you for the blessing, tembrooke

patinkc (author) from Midwest on February 18, 2011:

@anonymous: Thank you, Katrina!

anonymous on February 09, 2011:

Thank you for your wonderfully informative and beautifully created page to Kuan Yin...

C A Chancellor from US/TN on December 23, 2010:

Great lens -- blessed!

patinkc (author) from Midwest on December 06, 2010:

@Michey LM: Michey, Thank you for the Angel blessing!

Michey LM on December 06, 2010:

Excellent lens, informative, unique, and well presented. I learn a lot from your lens.Blessed by a Squid AngelThanks

patinkc (author) from Midwest on November 19, 2010:

@lmmclain: Thank you, mcclainl

patinkc (author) from Midwest on November 19, 2010:

@SofiaMann: I haven't heard of Magnified Healing.

lmmclain on November 19, 2010:

Great lens!

SofiaMann on October 28, 2010:

Do you know Magnified Healing? It is said that Kuan Yin is the inspiration of this system of healing.

patinkc (author) from Midwest on October 20, 2010:

@scar4: Thank you scar4!

patinkc (author) from Midwest on October 20, 2010:

@valizi: Thank you, Valizi!

valizi on October 19, 2010:

Great lens, lots of information,*****

scar4 on October 11, 2010:

Like the Kuan Yin pictures you used for this lens. Very complete information about Kuan Yin.

David Schroeter from St Kilda, Victoria, Australia on May 07, 2009:

Thank you for featuring my image of the Guanyin Statue of Hainan on this wonderful lens. I am proud to have provided a contribution to this page.

religions7 on May 06, 2009:

Great lens - you've been blessed by a squidoo angel :)

papawu on May 06, 2009:

My family in Korea are long time Buddhists. As a matter of fact, every year on my grandparent's birthdays, we visit the temple behind which they are buried and honor them with fruits and cakes and kowtow to their photos in reverence. I do believe in many of Buddha's teachings but won't go as far as saying that I am a Buddhist myself. However, I found your opening paragraph quite vivid in its depiction of what you experienced. It made me want to feel the same. Wonderful lens.

chriskelley on January 19, 2009:

Lovely, Lovely, Lovelyjagadambe mata ki jaijai ma

David Schroeter from St Kilda, Victoria, Australia on October 06, 2008:

Beautiful work, full of interesting information. Five *'s and a Lensroll!

MargoPArrowsmith on September 16, 2008:

I have always been drawn to her, this is beautiful. 5*

Susanna Duffy from Melbourne Australia on August 19, 2008:

What a delightful look at the Mother of Mercy! 5* It would be an honour to have this lens in the Goddess group http://www.squidoo.com/groups/goddess I do hope you will consider joining.

anonymous on August 15, 2008:

thank you

eccles1 on May 21, 2008:

I love this lens I got more reading to dothank you

BaiNiangZi on May 19, 2008:

The compassionate Kwan Yin! I love this lens! 5*

religions7 on April 08, 2008:

great lens!

RinchenChodron on January 17, 2008:

Did you know that HH The Dalai Lama is one emmanation of Quan Yin? Nice job. He stands for wisdom and compassion also.

CRLyceum on September 19, 2007:

Beautiful page. We're new here, but hope to add to our own lens as time goes by. Thank you and Goddess Bless!

Zenmagic on July 01, 2007:

Namo Ta Che Ta Pei Kuan Shi Yin Phu Sa! A really wonderful lens. Thanks a lot for the great informations about Kuan Yin Bodhisattva.

Sensitive Fern on February 16, 2007:

Fabulous lens! I love Kwan Yin!

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