Guanyin in China: Her Sacred Mountain

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Guanyin Altar at Yangzhi Monastery on Putuoshan Island

Putuoshan Island off the coast of Shanghai is one of the four sacred Buddhist mountains in China.  Each mountain is dedicated to a particular Bodhisattva and Putuoshan is dedicated to Guanyin, the goddess of compassion.

Last month I visited the many temples dedicated to her at Putuoshan and spent a week studying with Dr. Chun-Fang Yu, Columbia University’s scholar on the Guanyin.  We studied the transformation of this deity from male into female over many centuries in Chinese history.  While in certain settings Guanyin is still depicted as male, at Putuoshan she is primarily considered female and tied to the Chinese folk legend of Miaoshan, a young woman who is transformed into Guanyin through her exceptional sacrifices.

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Guanyin Statue in reconstruction at Fayu Temple on Putuoshan Island

I’ll be sharing more of the story of Miaoshan later in this blog and also for the C.G. Jung Society in Denver on Oct 4.  Learn more about the talk at www.thefemalebuddha.com

Guanyin: Archetype of Liberation and Love:  Friday Oct 4, 7 p.m.,  First Divine Science Church,  14th Ave. and Williams St.,    $15 at the door, $10 for students and seniors

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2 thoughts on “Guanyin in China: Her Sacred Mountain

  1. Hi Deborah,
    Have you ever heard of the “many robes of Guan Yin”?
    Many Chinese folks in Indonesia believe that there are more than one Guan Yin. They differentiate them based on their robes. The most popular one is the White robed Guan Yin. There are also Golden robed Guan Yin, Dark robed Guany Yin, Green robe Guan Yin, etc.
    I did not quite understand. I did ask questions but those elderly folks would just frown at me.
    As a Theravada Buddhist, I only known one Guan Yin, or Avalokitesvara. (I believe She is the one in portrayed in White Robe in most Chinese Temples)
    I wonder if the other “Guan Yins” are Avalokitesvara… or are they other deities with similar appearance?

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  2. Hi Hari,
    I have not heard of the many robes of her but I have heard quite a bit about the white robed Guanyin.
    You’ve got me curious though and will look into it.
    Thanks always for your conversation,
    Deborah

    Like

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