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Buddhism and Taoism Face to FaceScripture, Ritual, and Iconographic Exchange in Medieval China$
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Christine Mollier

Print publication date: 2008

Print ISBN-13: 9780824831691

Published to Hawaii Scholarship Online: November 2016

DOI: 10.21313/hawaii/9780824831691.001.0001

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Guanyin in a Taoist Guise

Guanyin in a Taoist Guise

(p.174) Chapter 5 Guanyin in a Taoist Guise
Buddhism and Taoism Face to Face

Christine Mollier

University of Hawai'i Press

The bodhisattva Avalokiteśvara decisively entered China at the end of the third century with the translation of the most widely revered Buddhist scripture in East Asia, the Sūtra of the Lotus Flower of the Wonderful Law, or Lotus Sūtra. Its twenty-fifth chapter, the “Universal Gateway of Guanshiyin” would have a particularly remarkable legacy, for in Avalokiteśvara, the Pumen pin introduced a new type of deity to Chinese religious life. The compassionate Guanyin was glorified not only as a universal savior but also as a readily accessible miracle worker rescuing persons in need from impending dangers or critical circumstances. This chapter suggests that the Tang work entitled the Marvelous Scripture of the Great Unity, the Savior from Suffering and Protector of Life can be seen as a Taoist transposition of the Lotus Sūtra’s Pumen pin, created to promote to the level of Guanyin one of the most prestigious deities of the Taoist pantheon, the Heavenly Venerable Savior from Suffering, the Jiuku tianzun.

Keywords:   Lotus Sutra, deity, Jiuku tianzun, Scripture of the Savior from Suffering, Buddhism, Taoism, medieval China

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