Book Excerpt! Becoming Guanyin, Yuhang Li (introduction)

Yuhang Li is, by training, an art historian. However, her take on Guanyin goes beyond the realms of art history. Li analyzes the female portrayal of Guanyin through paintings, material culture of embroidery, theatrical display of dance, archaeological objects, scripture, and literature. This is truly an interdisciplinary work.

~Chün-fang Yü, author of Kuan-yin: The Chinese Transformation of Avalokitesvara

The goddess Guanyin began in India as the bodhisattva Avalokiteśvara, originally a male deity. By the Ming and Qing periods, Guanyin had become the most popular female deity in China. In Becoming Guanyin: Artistic Devotion of Buddhist Women in Late Imperial China, Yuhang Li examines this gendered transformation and how lay Buddhist women forged a connection with the Guanyin. For today’s Women’s History Month post, we are sharing this excerpt to give an introduction to this work and to browse the artistic representations of the women deity.

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