Quan Yin, Goddess of Compassion and Mercy, is a highly venerated deity in many cultures. Quan Yin is sharer of both the misfortune and joy of the masses. Showing the Way, clasping in her hand the mythic weeping willow twig, she showers love, wisdom and compassion upon those who would follow.
Regarded by the Chinese as the goddess of mercy, she was originally male until the early part of the 12th century. She has evolved since that time into Avalokiteshvara, the 'Merciful Lord of Utter Enlightment', an Indian bodhisattva who chose to remain on earth to bring relief to the suffering rather than enjoy for himself the ecstasies of Nirvana.
One of the several stories surrounding Quan Yin is that she was a Buddhist who, through great love and sacrifice during life, had earned the right to enter Nirvana after death. However, while standing before the gates of Paradise she heard a cry of anguish from the earth below. Turning back to earth, she renounced her reward of bliss eternal, instead finding immortality in the hearts of the suffering.
Her legend reaches far and wide, and she has many names and forms. Known as 'Kannon' in Japan, 'Avalokitesvara' in India, 'Quan Am' in Vietnam and 'Spyan-rasgzigs' or 'Bodhisattva Chenresi' in Tibet, she is the Eastern Deity who weeps for those upon the earth.