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Statue of Kuan Yin, goddess of maternity, China, 1701-1900

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Carrying a child in her arms, this porcelain statue is thought to represent Kuan Yin, a Chinese goddess of fertility and protector of children. Kuan Yin is also considered in Chinese Buddhism to be the goddess of compassion and mercy. In cultures across the world, gods and goddesses are believed to protect their followers from illness, danger and death.

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Glossary: statue

A sculpture in the round representing human or animal figures or small figure groups; a statuette is a smaller sculpture.

Glossary: fertility

The natural capacity to give birth.

Glossary: Buddhism

A belief system or religion originally from India and based on the teachings of Siddharta Guatama, known as ‘The Buddha’, who died about 400 BCE. It requires ethical and unselfish behaviour.