|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.