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Re: what traditions areTradition ? #213298
12/28/05 04:53 PM
12/28/05 04:53 PM
Joined: Nov 2001
Posts: 393
New Orleans
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Dmitri Rostovski Offline
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Dmitri Rostovski  Offline
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Joined: Nov 2001
Posts: 393
New Orleans
The image above is an adaptation of Kan Yin (sp?). Kan Yin is the representation of the Buddha of Compassion in many Asian countries. Her likeness with child and that of many images of Our Lady is remarkable.

Dmitri

Re: what traditions areTradition ? #213299
12/28/05 07:07 PM
12/28/05 07:07 PM
Joined: Nov 2001
Posts: 787
Singapore
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Edward Yong Offline
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Edward Yong  Offline
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Joined: Nov 2001
Posts: 787
Singapore
CIX!

It's nearly 3 in the morning here in Singapore, but I couldn't resist commenting on this thread!

The Maria Kannon is a curious version of the Sino-Japanese school of Buddhism's Guan Yin (Kannon or Kwannon in Japanese) Bodhisattva, also popularly known as the Goddess of Mercy. During the fierce persecution of Catholics in Japan between the 1600s and the 1900s, those secret Catholics would pray before such an image of Kannon, specifically the version where she holds a book in one hand and a boy child in another. This is traditionally what the Chinese call 'Guan Yin - the giver of sons'. These Catholics would, in their hearts, see it as an image of the Mother of God.

Of course, this is one of those ways in which history plays ironical tricks on us, for the whole image of a caring, motherly, female figure, is totally absent from the original Indian school of Buddhism.

In a nutshell, without bothering you all with the details, when Persian Christianity entered Tang China in the 7th and 9th Centuries, the Buddhists found that the Christians with their concept of the Mother of Christ (Nestorians/Assyrians after all) had an advantage over them. Ergo, they changed the gender of a particular Buddhist saint/Bodhisattva from male to female and ascribed those qualities that we usually associate with the Mother of God to this new deity. The very name Guan Yin means, literally, 'noticing sounds', but more idiomatically it means 'the one who listens' or 'hearer of cries' - I don't know about you, but that strikes me as being suspiciously similar to a certain icon of the Mother of God, called the Gorgo-ypeko÷s, or 'quick to hear'.

We know that the Buddhists changed the gender of this deity in the 9th century - it's mentioned in a number of Chinese historical and religious texts of the period. One odd detail is that knowledgeable Chinese Buddhists know this, and their explanation is that the Guan Yin changed her image from male to female to make the message of Buddha more appealing to the masses, and that this change is only external. In other words, to put it crudely, Guan Yin is something of a drag queen.

At any rate, my point being that since the whole Buddhist Guan Yin/Kannon Bodhisattva image is derived from Christian influence in China, reclaiming that image for Christian purposes is strangely appropriate.

How's that for things coming full circle?

Re: what traditions areTradition ? #213300
12/28/05 07:34 PM
12/28/05 07:34 PM
Joined: Jan 2002
Posts: 4,268
Chicago
A
Amadeus Offline
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Amadeus  Offline
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Posts: 4,268
Chicago
It's beneficial to learn new things every day! (Close enough to a Chinese adage! biggrin )

May we have some more nuggets of wisdom, Master Edward? cool

Amado

Re: what traditions areTradition ? #213301
12/28/05 10:13 PM
12/28/05 10:13 PM
Joined: Sep 2002
Posts: 474
usa
sam Offline
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sam  Offline
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Posts: 474
usa
Quote
Just so the great Tradition remains consistant ...I have no problem with honoring the good traditions of the people of a particular culture.
If you think about it, how much of what we commonly accept as the norm, (ex: blonde-haired, blue-eyed statues/pictures of the Mother of God,white Irish Catholic-looking actors who portay Jesus in various films, etc.) are really adaptations made for our own particular culture?
We have our own European version of what Christ must have looked like. To change the image to say, an arabic or african american look would not sit well with many of us, making us feel like we can't quite connect. Imagine just how foreign our version must look to those of other ethnicities/cultures. Does this impede their connection?

Sam

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