Saturday, August 6, 2016

A Sign of Limitless Transcendence and Immortality

9th century Indian image of Avalokiteśvara
Guanyin is the Chinese translation of the Sanskrit word Avalokiteśvara referring to the Indian bodhisattva of the same name.  Avalokiteśvara has been depicted both in male or female form as a sign of limitless transcendence and immortality. Depicted in the female form Guanyin holds a child in her lap like the Christian Madonna.  Her help is sought by couples without children who appeal to her as the “child-sending” Guanyin to help them conceive. 

When Christianity was banned in Asia, Catholics began to venerate the Blessed Mother by disguising her as a statue of Kannon holding a child.  These statues became known as Maria Kannon. The statue of Guanyin in Gilsangsa Temple in Seoul, South Korea sculpted by a Catholic sculptor Choi Jong-tae is prime example of the Maria Kannon.  Jong-tae modeled the statue after Virgin Mary in hopes of religious reconciliation in Korean society.