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Kuan-yin : the Chinese transformation of Avalokitesìvara

4 out of 5 stars 7 customer reviews
ISBN-13: 978-0231120296
ISBN-10: 023112029X
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Editorial Reviews

Review

A major case study of the Mahayana concept of upaya... excellent and comprehensive.

(Journal of Religion)

Review

Without a doubt, Kuan-yin will surely become the starting point for all future research on this extraordinarily popular Buddhist figure.... The book is sui generis for Buddhist Studies.

(Victor H. Mair, University of Pennsylvania)

A major contribution to our understanding of Kuan-yin (Kannon) in East Asian Buddhism, giving a most lucid account of the concept of the compassionate bodhisattva and of the religious practices devoted to this 'Goddess of Mercy'as she has become popularly known in the West.

(Wm. Theodore de Bary, John Mitchell Mason Professor Emeritus and Provost Emeritus, Columbia University)
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 688 pages
  • Publisher: Columbia University Press (September 15, 2000)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 023112029X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0231120296
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1.3 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,325,784 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Paperback
Finally, here is an historically-oriented, multi-disciplinary view of Buddhist practice and iconography that is well-written and impeccably researched. Yu looks at Kwan Yin through a Chinese-American lens, carefully examining past scholarship and then giving her own persuasive appraisal of the Chinese cult of the Compassion Mother. Rather than seeing Kwan Yin as a simply a version of White Tara or some other female Buddhist deity, Yu shows how Kwan Yin was a uniquely Chinese version of the compassion Buddha, Avalokiteshvara. Examining the bureaucratic hierarchy of Chinese society, Yu concludes that there was "too much yang and not enough yin." Kwan Yin became popular as a gentle, compassionate savioress who appeared to monks, child-bearing women and children. Yu's command of art history and iconography deserve tremendous credit. Her discussion of lay buddhism and Chinese folktales is absorbing. If you are at all interested in a more intellectual, historical look at Chinese Buddhism, give this book a look.
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Format: Paperback
As the author states, western interest in eastern religion, and feminism has greatly expanded the interest in Kuan-Yin, but it also misappropriated, either smearing her and other female goddesses into a translucent light blue, elevator muzak "great goddess". This makes learning more about the worship and ritual of this goddess a treacherous course, with a lot of books in the market not really discussing anything of the fascinating unique Chinese beliefs (in fact, this can be said about the entire "neo-pagan" mavement).

Having recently travelled with my wife and in-laws to Hong Kong, and escorted my chinese wife and mother-in-law to the Wong Tai Sin temple during the Chinese New Year, I wanted to learn more about the indigenous beliefs and history of Guan-Yin, and eventually decided on Chun-Fang Yu's book.

Like Walter Burkett's Greek Religion, it is not a light, fluffy telling of tales, but a detailed exploration of the goddesses origin, sources and changes in both myth and ritual over time. She starts with the original, the MALE indian bodhisattva Avelokitesvara, and the source suttras, and then discusses how it became a female goddess. The text is amazingly well researched and thorough.

However, the additional pleasure in the novel comes from Yu's own personal experience with Guan-Yin, starting with her grandmother, and this direct connection is interwoven throughout the book, so instead of a dry scholarly approach, we have a book created by an author whose approach to a loving topic is not to skim over it, but to pursue it in full depth. I can't think of a better tribute.
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Format: Paperback
The best book I have read on Quan Yin and her history. Yu Chunfang has done a masterful job of exploring the history of the savior Quan Yin and makes it a pleasure to read - rather than an academic reference type book.
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Format: Paperback
Chun-Fang Yu's research into the evolving of Kuan Yin in Chinese Buddhist history is both thorough and scholarly. Well worth reading by those interested in the history of Chinese Buddhism or in having a deeper understanding of the part Kuan Yin plays in the lives and hearts of many.

Malcolm Hunt, Brisbane, Australia
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