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Goddess of Mercy

Goddess of Mercy

Goddess of Mercy or Guanyin
20th century
7 inches height
Originally from American Baptist Seminary of the West

According to Stephan Feuchtwang, Popular Religion in China: The Imperial Metaphor (2001):

"The most important and widespread god of intercession for the dead, for women wanting children, and for the sick, was originally a Buddhist divinity who in Chinese history was transformed from a male into a female deity. This is the bodhisattva or pusa (one who has achieved buddhahood but chooses to remain in merciful attachment to the world) who in Sanskrit is called Avalokitesvara. In China he was merged with the legendary Miaoshan, a princess who incurred her father's rage by her choice of an ascetic, unmarried life until her death. She then returned to life to save him from severe physical and moral sickness by sacrificing her eyes and arms for him to eat as medicine. As a deity she is the female Guanyin, often known in English as the Goddess of Mercy. Her depiction is usually benign, but many Buddhist temples portray her other aspect as a much more majestic and commanding deity with a thousand arms and with feet literally stamping authority on the monstrous dragon of the waters that is the realm of demons. Daoists honour her, as well as Buddhists. She is one of the gods whose worship has spread throughout China and epitomizes the mix of vernacular and textual traditions in Chinese religion."


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