ArtsAutosBooksBusinessEducationEntertainmentFamilyFashionFoodGamesGenderHealthHolidaysHomeHubPagesPersonal FinancePetsPoliticsReligionSportsTechnologyTravel

Kuan Yin Guan Yin Chinese Goddess

Updated on March 9, 2017

Who Is Kuan Yin

There are several ways to spell the Chinese name of this Buddhist Diety: Kuan Yin, Guan Yin, Guanyin, Kwan Yin, Guan Yen. She has other names in other languages.

I remember the first time I encountered an image of Kuan Yin. It was many years ago, before I had heard the name of Kuan Yin, I walked through a doorway in the Museum and felt this much larger than life Kuan Yin (see the photo) gazing down at me and it took my breath away. I sat down on the wooden bench in front of her for some length of time, not wanting to leave this enchanted presence. I watched as people came into the room and saw them experience the same reverence that I had at once felt. Even small children hushed their chatter as they entered her presence and could not take their eyes away from her.

In the following years, I have returned to this place of magic many times. It never loses it's enchantment.

This photo was taken by me.

Guanyin of the Southern Sea

Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art

Among Buddhist statues exhibited in the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, Missouri, is this 11th/12th-century C.E. polychrome wooden Avalokiteshvara, Seated Gaunyin Bodhisattva, internationally heralded as the finest sculpture of its kind outside China.

11th-12th century Chinese

Wood with paint, 95 x 65 inches (241.3 x 165.1 cm)


Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art in Kansas City, Missouri Gallery 230

Seated Gaunyin Bodhisattva

The Kuan Yin Chronicles: The Myths and Prophecies of the Chinese Goddess of Compassion

This book introduces Kuan Yin to Western readers, and reveals that Kuan Yin is the mystery and power of the divine feminine, who transcends all doctrines, creeds, and traditions. It cover the origins and evolution of Kuan Yin in early China, Buddhism, Taoism, and shamanism, and includes the myths and stories about Kuan Yin and poetry.

Therefore should the mind be

constantly fixed on her.

~ Lotus Sutra

Kuan Yin by gmeador

Kuan Yin by gmeador
Kuan Yin by gmeador

Seated In The Posture Of Royal Ease

Guanyin of the Southern Sea also called Nanhai Guanyin.

"The Bodhisattva Guanyin, [Kuan Yen, Kwan Yin] the Chinese Buddhist deity of compassion and mercy," in the above photo "is seated in the posture of royal ease on a simulated outcropping of craggy, perforated rock."

"The position of the Guanyin, one leg in pendant, conveys the impression that the Bodhisavatta might at any moment rise from a state of deep contemplation and step down from the carved lotus rest."

photo cc by gmeador

Kuan Yin by gmeador

kuan yin gmeador
kuan yin gmeador

The Bodhisavatta's "worldly ornaments, such as the high tiara and rich necklaces in sumptuous detail, contrast with the more plain image of the Buddha, whose markings indicate his ethereal status. The soft skin and contour, charm of bearing and beguiling smile create an aura of femininity."

What is a bodhisattva? The bodhisattva, a popular subject in Buddhist art, is someone who does spiritual practice with the goal of achieving full enlightenment, but who who is still subject to birth, illness, death, sorrow, defilement, and delusion.

Just before arriving at the point of enlightment, she turns back into the world and says, "No, I will not achieve liberation until all beings have been set free." Then she steps into the world and works to alleviate suffering and to awaken beings to their true nature.

"A bodhisattva is one who has a determination to free sentient beings from samsara and its cycle of death, rebirth and suffering. This type of mind is known as the mind of awakening"

Guanyin of Moon and Water - Shuiyue Guanyin

The concept of the Shuiyue Guanyin arose from the eminent Tang poet Bai Juyi's poem "Ode to the portrait of Shuiyue Guanyin" expressing his devotion for the "Moon's reflection in Water form of Guanyin" (Shuiyue Guanyin).

The poem reads as follows:

Floating in water, Clean and pure,

As if hiding In the white light.

When I set my sight All egos are vanishing.

Your disciple Bai Juyi With devotion under your feet.

You are my cynosure Life after life forever.

She is, first of all, the pre-eminent goddess in all of Asia. You find her in China, Korea, Japan, Vietnam, Burma, Thailand and other countries. Then, in the Buddhist tradition, she is the Celestial Bodhisattva of Compassion.

~Sandy Boucher

One of the most interesting elements of Kwan Yin's story is how she transformed from a male figure into a female one. She was brought to China in the fifth century as the male bodhisattva Avalokitesvara; in the next three hundred years she mysteriously transformed into the female Guan Shih Yin or Kwan Yin. How did that happen! Well, she came into the world embodied in actual flesh-and-blood women. There would be a child who was particularly kind and sweetly accepting, she would grow into a compassionate woman who did many good deeds for others; sometimes she would even sacrifice her life to save others. Then, after her death, through various magical signs, it would be understood that this had not been an ordinary woman but was a sacred being, the goddess Kwan Yin. Many stories in China relate this history, and that is why there are so many different forms of the Chinese Kwan Yin or Guan Shih Yin.

Source Sandy Boucher, Opening the Lotus

Click to order this beautiful Hand carved wooden Kwan Yin, Goddess of Mercy statue

Discovering Kwan Yin Buddhist Goddess of Compassion - By Sandy Boucher

This lovely, illustrated volume recounts the stories of this bodhisattva, explains Kwan Yin's role in Buddhism and includes meditations, chants, and prayers.

What is your interest in Kuan Yin?

Actually, anyone can be like Kuan Yin. You may say that you don't have a thousand eyes or a thousand arms or that you lack skilful means, but it is your compassion that can transform you into a Kuan Yin. With your eyes and hands, you can help others. With your compassion, you can bring peace and tranquility to this world.

Which best describes You?

See results

Usually depicted glancing down symbolizing that Guan Yin continues to watch over the world.

Tibetan Wood Gilt Statue Seated Male Aspect Quan Yin

Antique and Collectible 1400-1450

This antique and collectible Bodhisattva Quan Yin the Compassionate is very very old (1400-1450).

Tibetan Wood Gilt Statue Seated Male Aspect Quan YinCHECK PRICE

Kuan Yin with Baby
Kuan Yin with Baby

Kuan Yin the Universal Mother

Kuan Yin, the Bodhisattva of Compassion, is shown here in the aspect of Universal Mother.

When a child plays on her lap, or children at her feet, they symbolize not only newborn and /or spiritual life, but also Mother Nature whose mysterious powers continually produce, sustain, destroy and renew life throughout the universe.

In China, Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva is represented in female form and is known as Kuan Yin. Probably because of Kuan Yin's great compassion, a quality which is traditionally considered feminine, most of the bodhisattva's statues in China since the Tang Dynasty (A.D. 618 - 907) have appeared as female figures. In India, however, the bodhisattva is generally represented as a male figure.

Click to order Kuan-Yin with Baby Statue, Stone

Read More About Kwan Yin

Terms to know:

Kuan Shih Yin - Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva

The Bodhisattva of Great Compassion

The Sanskrit name "Avalokiteshvara" means "the lord who looks upon the world with compassion".

Translated into Chinese, the name is "Kuan Shih Yin"or Quan Yin.

Kuan: observe

Shih: the world / the region of sufferers

Yin: all the sounds of the world, in particular, the crying sounds of beings, verbal or mental, seeking help

Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva is the embodiment of great compassion. He has vowed to free all sentient beings from suffering.


As long as you are kind and there is love in your heart A thousand hands will naturally come to your aid As long as you are kind and there is love in your heart You will reach out with a thousand hands to help others.

Thousand Hands and Eyes Avalokitesvara - Flickr photo by JasonDGreat

Thousand-Armed Bodhisattva

In Buddhist art, "Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva is sometimes shown with eleven heads, 1000 hands and eyes on the palms of each hand (Thousand-Armed Avalokiteshvara Bodhisattva). The thousand eyes allow the bodhisattva to see the sufferings of sentient beings, and the thousand hands allow her to reach out to help them.

Sometimes, he is represented with one head and 4 arms. This is the Four-Armed Avalokiteshvara, worshipped by all Tibetans as "Chenrezig", the Holder of the White Lotus. It is in the male form which has two hands in the praying gesture while the other two hands hold his symbols, the Crystal Rosary and the Lotus Flower." Source

Thousand-Hand Guan Yin

If any is carried away by a flood, call upon her name, they will immediately reach the shallows . . . or if anyone cries who is in deadly peril by the sword, the sword will be snapped asunder. If wicked demons attach, the one who cries will become invisible to them ..."

- from the Lotus Sutra.

Kuan Yin Images

In her hands, Kuan Yin may hold a willow branch, a vase with water or occasionally, a lotus flower.

The willow branch is used to heal people's illnesses or bring fulfillment to their requests.

The water ( the dew of compassion) has the quality of removing suffering, purifying the defilements of our body, speech and mind, and lengthening life.

Guan Yin in Sydney - Flickr Photo by BotheredByBees

Guan Yin BotheredByBees
Guan Yin BotheredByBees

Kwan Yin also enjoys the wide popularity of a folk goddess.

The people of Japan know her as Kannon and in Tibet the people pray to her a Chenrezi.

Nanshan Park Guanyin Statue of Hainan - Flickr photo by lensmaster drs2biz

Currently the fourth tallest statue in the world, the Guanyin Statue of Hainan, also known as Guan Yin of the South Sea of Sanya, is a 108 metre tall statue of the bodhisattva. It is sited on the south coast of China's island province Hainan in the Nanshan Culture Tourism Zone near the Nanshan Temple west of Sanya. This aspect of the statue depicts Guanyin cradling a sutra in the left hand and gesturing the Vitarka Mudra with the right...

"The Maitreya statue at Tashilunpo Monastery is huge!" - Photo by Kuanyin on Twitpic


Tashilhunpo Monastery (Tibetan: founded in 1447 by Gendun Drup, the First Dalai Lama,[1] is a historic and culturally important monastery next to Shigatse, the second-largest city in Tibet. Wikipedia

Share Your Thoughts About Kuan Yin - I want to hear from you

    0 of 8192 characters used
    Post Comment
    • patinkc profile imageAUTHOR


      4 years ago from Midwest

      Thanks for adding to the info about Kuan Yin! Much appreciated!

    • KenWu profile image


      4 years ago from Malaysia

      Great readings on Kuan Yin. Indeed, this Bodhisattva is the most revered one in Mahayana Buddhism practice. One thing I would like to add on top of your awesome facts is Kuan Yin or Avalokistesvara is one of the three saints of Amitabha Pureland. According to Pureland sutras, Avalokitesvara and Mahasthamaprapta are both the first students of Amitabha. You might want to check out this hub:

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      Kuan Yin hears my tears every day!!! Namaste!!!

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      At our family house, we have statues of Kuan Yin on the altar for our ancestors. When I participated in group meditations at a healing center down South, I would sit next to the Kuan Yin statue. Her energy is beautiful and transcendent.

    • profile image


      6 years ago

      For me, i have never imagine the figure of Kuan Yin Phusat. I just feel and have Her in may inner part of my heart. What i have now is below to Her, when i am in difficulty, She always appears in my problem and help me to solve it. I cant describe how's Her big love works for me. But, i love Kuan Yin Phusat. Om Mani Padme Hum ( 108 x )

    • earthybirthymum profile image


      7 years ago from Ontario, Canada

      You have done a great job detailing all I find fascinating about Quan Yin. Thank you for such a great Lense.

    • Addy Bell profile image

      Addy Bell 

      7 years ago

      Wonderful lens about Kuan Yin. *blessed*!

    • christopherlee lm profile image

      christopherlee lm 

      7 years ago

      I have to say that you have cover very on one of my favorite topic, thanks PatinC.

    • GreenfireWiseWo profile image


      7 years ago

      Very beautiful lens - I love Kwan Yin. Thank you.

    • profile image


      7 years ago

      This is a beautiful lens dedicated to a very special Goddess. Thank you for sharing these wonderful words and images.

    • jlshernandez profile image


      8 years ago

      My mother and I have always liked having a statue of Kuan Yin in our homes. She brings so much serenity into our surroundings. Thanks for sharing this wonderful lens. Blessed by a SquidAngel.

    • patinkc profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Midwest

      @Board-Game-Brooke: Thank you for the blessing, tembrooke

    • Michey LM profile image

      Michey LM 

      8 years ago

      Excellent lens, informative, unique, and well presented. I learn a lot from your lens.Blessed by a Squid AngelThanks

    • patinkc profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Midwest

      @anonymous: Thank you, Katrina!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Thank you for your wonderfully informative and beautifully created page to Kuan Yin...

    • Board-Game-Brooke profile image

      C A Chancellor 

      8 years ago from US/TN

      Great lens -- blessed!

    • patinkc profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Midwest

      @Michey LM: Michey, Thank you for the Angel blessing!

    • patinkc profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Midwest

      @lmmclain: Thank you, mcclainl

    • patinkc profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Midwest

      @SofiaMann: I haven't heard of Magnified Healing.

    • lmmclain profile image


      8 years ago

      Great lens!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Do you know Magnified Healing? It is said that Kuan Yin is the inspiration of this system of healing.

    • patinkc profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Midwest

      @valizi: Thank you, Valizi!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Great lens, lots of information,*****

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      Like the Kuan Yin pictures you used for this lens. Very complete information about Kuan Yin.

    • drs2biz lm profile image

      David Schroeter 

      9 years ago from St Kilda, Victoria, Australia

      Thank you for featuring my image of the Guanyin Statue of Hainan on this wonderful lens. I am proud to have provided a contribution to this page.

    • religions7 profile image


      9 years ago

      Great lens - you've been blessed by a squidoo angel :)

    • papawu profile image


      9 years ago

      My family in Korea are long time Buddhists. As a matter of fact, every year on my grandparent's birthdays, we visit the temple behind which they are buried and honor them with fruits and cakes and kowtow to their photos in reverence. I do believe in many of Buddha's teachings but won't go as far as saying that I am a Buddhist myself. However, I found your opening paragraph quite vivid in its depiction of what you experienced. It made me want to feel the same. Wonderful lens.

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      Lovely, Lovely, Lovelyjagadambe mata ki jaijai ma

    • drs2biz lm profile image

      David Schroeter 

      10 years ago from St Kilda, Victoria, Australia

      Beautiful work, full of interesting information. Five *'s and a Lensroll!

    • MargoPArrowsmith profile image


      10 years ago

      I have always been drawn to her, this is beautiful. 5*

    • SusannaDuffy profile image

      Susanna Duffy 

      10 years ago from Melbourne Australia

      What a delightful look at the Mother of Mercy! 5* It would be an honour to have this lens in the Goddess group I do hope you will consider joining.

    • profile image


      10 years ago

      thank you

    • eccles1 profile image


      10 years ago

      I love this lens I got more reading to dothank you

    • BaiNiangZi profile image


      10 years ago

      The compassionate Kwan Yin! I love this lens! 5*

    • religions7 profile image


      11 years ago

      great lens!

    • profile image


      11 years ago

      Did you know that HH The Dalai Lama is one emmanation of Quan Yin? Nice job. He stands for wisdom and compassion also.

    • profile image


      11 years ago

      Beautiful page. We're new here, but hope to add to our own lens as time goes by. Thank you and Goddess Bless!

    • profile image


      11 years ago

      Namo Ta Che Ta Pei Kuan Shi Yin Phu Sa! A really wonderful lens. Thanks a lot for the great informations about Kuan Yin Bodhisattva.

    • Sensitive Fern profile image

      Sensitive Fern 

      12 years ago

      Fabulous lens! I love Kwan Yin!


    This website uses cookies

    As a user in the EEA, your approval is needed on a few things. To provide a better website experience, uses cookies (and other similar technologies) and may collect, process, and share personal data. Please choose which areas of our service you consent to our doing so.

    For more information on managing or withdrawing consents and how we handle data, visit our Privacy Policy at:

    Show Details
    HubPages Device IDThis is used to identify particular browsers or devices when the access the service, and is used for security reasons.
    LoginThis is necessary to sign in to the HubPages Service.
    Google RecaptchaThis is used to prevent bots and spam. (Privacy Policy)
    AkismetThis is used to detect comment spam. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide data on traffic to our website, all personally identifyable data is anonymized. (Privacy Policy)
    HubPages Traffic PixelThis is used to collect data on traffic to articles and other pages on our site. Unless you are signed in to a HubPages account, all personally identifiable information is anonymized.
    Amazon Web ServicesThis is a cloud services platform that we used to host our service. (Privacy Policy)
    CloudflareThis is a cloud CDN service that we use to efficiently deliver files required for our service to operate such as javascript, cascading style sheets, images, and videos. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Hosted LibrariesJavascript software libraries such as jQuery are loaded at endpoints on the or domains, for performance and efficiency reasons. (Privacy Policy)
    Google Custom SearchThis is feature allows you to search the site. (Privacy Policy)
    Google MapsSome articles have Google Maps embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    Google ChartsThis is used to display charts and graphs on articles and the author center. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSense Host APIThis service allows you to sign up for or associate a Google AdSense account with HubPages, so that you can earn money from ads on your articles. No data is shared unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Google YouTubeSome articles have YouTube videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    VimeoSome articles have Vimeo videos embedded in them. (Privacy Policy)
    PaypalThis is used for a registered author who enrolls in the HubPages Earnings program and requests to be paid via PayPal. No data is shared with Paypal unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook LoginYou can use this to streamline signing up for, or signing in to your Hubpages account. No data is shared with Facebook unless you engage with this feature. (Privacy Policy)
    MavenThis supports the Maven widget and search functionality. (Privacy Policy)
    Google AdSenseThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Google DoubleClickGoogle provides ad serving technology and runs an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Index ExchangeThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    SovrnThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Facebook AdsThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Unified Ad MarketplaceThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    AppNexusThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    OpenxThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Rubicon ProjectThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    TripleLiftThis is an ad network. (Privacy Policy)
    Say MediaWe partner with Say Media to deliver ad campaigns on our sites. (Privacy Policy)
    Remarketing PixelsWe may use remarketing pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to advertise the HubPages Service to people that have visited our sites.
    Conversion Tracking PixelsWe may use conversion tracking pixels from advertising networks such as Google AdWords, Bing Ads, and Facebook in order to identify when an advertisement has successfully resulted in the desired action, such as signing up for the HubPages Service or publishing an article on the HubPages Service.
    Author Google AnalyticsThis is used to provide traffic data and reports to the authors of articles on the HubPages Service. (Privacy Policy)
    ComscoreComScore is a media measurement and analytics company providing marketing data and analytics to enterprises, media and advertising agencies, and publishers. Non-consent will result in ComScore only processing obfuscated personal data. (Privacy Policy)
    Amazon Tracking PixelSome articles display amazon products as part of the Amazon Affiliate program, this pixel provides traffic statistics for those products (Privacy Policy)