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Statue of goddess Kuan Yin, goddess of mercy and maternity, China, before 1922

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Kwan Yin is known within the Buddhist faith as a ‘bodhisattva’. This is a god who has selflessly given up the progression to Nirvana, the ultimate state of enlightenment that is the goal of Buddhists, to remain in this world to help mankind. She is the goddess of mercy and compassion linked with maternity. She can perform miracles and answer prayers. This wooden statue was originally studded with semi-precious stones and depicts her as pregnant. She is revered by men and women because of her understanding of suffering. Chinese Buddhists consider P’u-t’ o-shan island, China, the mythical home of Kwan Yin. It became the centre of a devotional cult in her honour during the 900s CE. It was established when a Buddhist monk travelling with an image of Kwan Yin sheltered from a storm on the island. He was so taken with the island’s beauty he built a temple in Kwan Yin’s honour. It is still a place of pilgrimage.

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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: votive offering

    Objects or monuments donated by an individual for a public place or shrine. The object is usually given in gratitude for deliverance from distress.

    Glossary: Traditional Chinese Medicine

    Traditional Chinese Medicine (TCM) is a medical tradition originating in China, but now used worldwide. Treatments include herbal medicine, massage and acupuncture, which are combined to create a therapy tailored to the patient.

    Glossary: indigenious beliefs

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