Two bronze statues of Guan Yin, Chinese, 1000-1800.
© Science Museum / Science & Society Picture Library
Guan (Kuan, or Kuan-shi) Yin is a popular Chinese Buddhist bodhisattva (prophet), and the protector of women and children. He is also known as Avalokiteshvara or Chenresi in Tibetan, meaning 'one who hears the cries of the world'. He can take any form and appear wherever a person needs his help, especially if they are threatened by water, demons, fire, or swords. More recently, Guan Yin has been depicted with feminine features, a result of Taoistic influences from the 8th-10th century. Guan-yin is also worshipped in Japan as the goddes Kannon by both Buddhist and Shinto groups.