Caroline Young, artwork and text
Miao Shan was the youngest of three daughters of Miao Chuang, a king in Southern China. As he had no sons, it was his daughters’ duty to marry and produce an heir to the throne.
Miao Shan eschewed the material world, preferring the life of a nun. She refused to marry, thus incurring the wrath of her father. In anger, he threatened to have her executed for disobedience to the throne.
The Tiger, the immortal protector of the gods, was immediately dispatched to rescue Miao Shan.
She rode on his back to the Yellow Mountains, where she spent the next few years studying the scriptures of the Buddha and aspiring to spiritual perfection, or enlightenment.
Then news arrived that her father was dying from a mysterious illness.
She prayed to the gods for a miracle cure, and was told that if a righteous person would sacrifice his/her right hand and right eye, and brewed a potion and then administered it to her father, he would survive.
Without hesitation, she made the ultimate sacrifice. Then, disguised as a monk, she traveled to her father’s bedside and gave him the potion.
Miraculously, the king recovered. He asked who his benefactor was, and upon finding out it was his own daughter, whom he had treated so badly, he was much ashamed and spent the rest of his life doing good deeds in atonement.
The gods were so pleased with Miao Shan’s filial love and devotion that they restored her hand and her eye, and made her the goddess of great compassion and mercy.
She is known to us today as Quan Yin.