Who was Kuan-Yin? - Chinese Buddhist goddess
Welcome to Quatr.us Study Guides!

Who was Kuan-Yin?

Kuan-Yin
Kuan-Yin

Kuan-Yin was a Chinese Buddhist goddess based on a real woman, the way Kuan-Ti was based on a real man. According to the story, her father murdered her, and she went down to the underworld. But when she got there, she recited the holy books, and that prevented the god of the underworld from torturing the dead souls. He didn't like that, and so he sent Kuan-Yin back to be alive again. When Kuan-Yin came back to life, she spent all her time studying Buddhist ideas, and so the Buddha made her immortal (so she would never die).

Kuan Yin became the goddess of mercy and compassion. She was very popular. People who wanted her to help them shook rattles and set off firecrackers to get her attention. She is usually shown as a lady holding a baby, dressed in white, sitting on a lotus.

Stories about Kuan-Yin seem to have actually gotten started from stories about a male Indian boddhisatva called Avalokitesvara. Somehow, along the way, Kuan-Yin changed both her name and her gender!

More about the Chinese gods
Learn by doing: Buddhism project


Bibliography and further reading about Chinese gods:

Kuan-yin, by Chun-Fang Yu (2000). Not , but a detailed account of the historical development of this Chinese goddess.

The Gods and Goddesses of Ancient China, by Leonard Everett Fisher (2003). . One page for each god, with lots of pictures and some historical context.

Five Heavenly Emperors: Chinese Myths of Creation, by Song Nan Zhang (1994). Stories .

Chinese Mythology A to Z, by Jeremy Roberts (2004).

Dragons and Demons : Myths of China, by Stewart Ross (1998). A few Chinese stories, retold .

Dragons, Gods and Spirits from Chinese Mythology, by Tao Sanders (1983). More of a child's encyclopedia.

More about the Chinese gods
More about Chinese religion
Ancient China
Quatr.us home


Please help other teachers and students find us: link to this page from your class page.
Karen Carr is Associate Professor Emerita, Department of History, Portland State University. She holds a doctorate in Classical Art and Archaeology from the University of Michigan. Follow her on Instagram, Pinterest, or Twitter, or buy her book, Vandals to Visigoths.
Karen Carr is Associate Professor Emerita, Department of History, Portland State University. She holds a doctorate in Classical Art and Archaeology from the University of Michigan. Follow her on Instagram or Twitter, or buy her book, Vandals to Visigoths.
Sign up for more free articles and special offers in Quatr.us' weekly newsletter:
We will never share your e-mail address unless you allow us to do so. View our privacy policy. Easy unsubscribe links are provided in every email.
Check out our new ebook: Short and Simple: Ancient Greek Myths! - just out! Twenty-five easy to read, illustrated stories, from Pandora to Medea, Icarus, and the Trojan Horse (you can read these online as samples). Get it this week for just $14.99, five dollars off the regular price of $19.99.
Cite this page
  • Author: K.E. Carr
  • Title:
  • Site Name: Quatr.us Study Guides
  • Publisher: Quatr.us
  • Date Published:
Did you find what you needed? Ask your teacher to link to this page so other people can use it too! Send it in and win a Quatr.us "Great Page!" award!
Sign up for more free articles and special offers in Quatr.us' weekly newsletter:
We will never share your e-mail address unless you allow us to do so. View our privacy policy. Easy unsubscribe links are provided in every email.
Comment on This Article
Quatr.us is loading comments...
(Comments will appear after moderation, if they are kind and helpful. Feel free to ask questions, and we'll try to answer them.)
Cite this page
  • Carr, K.E. . Quatr.us Study Guides, . Web. 17 October, 2017
ADVERTISEMENT