Buddha surrounded by the Feminine

While visiting the home of an elder Taiwanese women I was granted permission to photograph her altar which included this triptych of the Buddha and two images of Guanyin, the Chinese goddess of compassion.  The figure on the Buddha’s right is holding a vase with healing nectars and the figure on the left is hold a lotus flower, symbolic of purity arising from the mud, or the interdependence of samsara and nirvana.

Buddha and Guanyin are standing on lotus flowers and the lights on the altar are also lotus flowers with their images reflected in the glass in the triptych.  The lotus color of pink is associated with Buddhism in the East and is common in the decorations on altars.

Both the Buddha and the Guanyin figure on the right gesture with one hand up in the Dharmachakra mudra representative of their role in teaching the path from suffering to liberation.  Dharmachakra literally means the wheel of Dharma or truth and the gesture of the thumb and forefinger is in the shape of a circle or wheel.

Guanyin is considered to have mastered the Buddha’s teachings and is committed to the salvation of all suffering beings through her healing and teaching.  When visiting temples in Taiwan and Vietnam it was common to see a large Buddha statue flanked on both sides by feminine images of Guanyin.

In some sects Guanyin was the central figure on the altar and in others she may have been a smaller figure but was never absent in these countries of the Chinese diaspora. China has a long history of female goddess figures and was the country where the male Buddhist figure of compassion, Avelokitesvara, transformed into a woman over the course of 800 years.


Many images and quotes in the spirit of Guanyin are on on the way!

CLICK HERE to receive The Female Buddha book with you donation to our campaign.  Order now for only $35 or $40 to receive a book + notecards by Christmas!

Book image

The Indiegogo campaign offers you the opportunity to receive a signed copy of the Female Buddha book, lovely notecardsphotographs, a workshop, consulting or other generous rewards for your donations.  In the first half of the campaign we have already met 80% of our goal with over $4000 in contributions.  Please join us today in bringing Guanyin to an audience eager for her wisdom and compassion.

Thanks so much for your interest and please, check her out!



2 thoughts on “Buddha surrounded by the Feminine

  1. It’s a very beautiful altar. Our family has been worshiping Guan Yin for more than five generations. We have a small altar at home in which a statue of the white-robed Guan Yin sitting in it, accompanied by her two disciples, The Golden Boy and The Jade Maiden.
    I have always been interested into seeing how other Buddhists set up their altars. 😀


    • Hari,
      Thanks so much for sharing about your family altar. I have an image from Taiwan of Gaun Yin with Sudhana in my book as well as an image from Bangkok with both him and the Dragon Maiden holding the wish fulfilling jewel placed on an alter next to Guanyin. While these are different characters it is interesting that their youth is similar. Your comments are so helpful.


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s