Kuan-yin: The Chinese Transformation of Avalokitesvara

Kobo ebook | October 6, 2000

byChün-fang Yü

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By far one of the most important objects of worship in the Buddhist traditions, the bodhisattva Avalokitesvara is regarded as the embodiment of compassion. He has been widely revered throughout the Buddhist countries of Asia since the early centuries of the Common Era. While he was closely identified with the royalty in South and Southeast Asia, and the Tibetans continue to this day to view the Dalai Lamas as his incarnations, in China he became a she -- Kuan-yin, the "Goddess of Mercy" -- and has a very different history. The causes and processes of this metamorphosis have perplexed Buddhist scholars for centuries.

In this groundbreaking, comprehensive study, Chün-fang Yü discusses this dramatic transformation of the (male) Indian bodhisattva Avalokitesvara into the (female) Chinese Kuan-yin -- from a relatively minor figure in the Buddha's retinue to a universal savior and one of the most popular deities in Chinese religion.

Focusing on the various media through which the feminine Kuan-yin became constructed and domesticated in China, Yü thoroughly examines Buddhist scriptures, miracle stories, pilgrimages, popular literature, and monastic and local gazetteers -- as well as the changing iconography reflected in Kuan-yin's images and artistic representations -- to determine the role this material played in this amazing transformation. The book eloquently depicts the domestication of Kuan-yin as a case study of the indigenization of Buddhism in China and illuminates the ways this beloved deity has affected the lives of all Chinese people down the ages.

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By far one of the most important objects of worship in the Buddhist traditions, the bodhisattva Avalokitesvara is regarded as the embodiment of compassion. He has been widely revered throughout the Buddhist countries of Asia since the early centuries of the Common Era. While he was closely identified with the royalty in South and Sout...

Chün-fang Yü is professor and chair of the Department of Religion at Rutgers, the State University of New Jersey. She is the author of The Renewal of Buddhism in China: Chu-hung and the Late Ming Synthesis (Columbia) and coeditor of Pilgrims and Sacred Sites in China.
Format:Kobo ebookPublished:October 6, 2000Publisher:Columbia University PressLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:0231502753

ISBN - 13:9780231502757

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Extra Content

Table of Contents

Preface
Appendixes
A.Stele Text of the "Life of the Great Compassionate One"
B.Chinese Women Pilgrims' Songs Glorifying Kuan-yin
Notes
Glossary and Index
1.Introduction
2.Scriptural Sources for the Cult of Kuan-yin
3.Indigenous Scriptures and the Cult of Kuan-yin
4.Miracle Tales and the Domestication of Kuan-yin
5.Divine Monks and the Domestication of Kuan-yin
6.Indigenous Iconographies and the Domestication of Kuan-yin
7.The Ritual of Great Compassion Repentance and the Domestication of the Thousand-handed and the Thousand-eyed Kuan-yin in the Sung
8.Princess Miao-shan and the Feminization of Kuan-yin
9.P'ut'o Shan: Pilgrimage and the Creation of the Chinese Potalaka
10.Feminine Forms of Kuan-yin in Late Imperial China
11.Venerable Mother: Kuan-yin and Sectarian Religions in Late Imperial China
12.Conclusion

Editorial Reviews

A major case study of the Mahayana concept of upaya... excellent and comprehensive.



A major contribution to our understanding of Kuan-yin (Kannon) in East Asian Buddhism, giving a most lucid account of the concept of the compassionate bodhisattva and of the religious practices devoted to this 'Goddess of Mercy'as she has become popularly known in the West.