Saturday, May 8, 2010

More on My Mask Exhibition

I decided to do the signage differently than usual. I decided to include more information about me and if needed, the subject matter. This caused most of the signs to fill the 8 1/2 x 11 inch paper that I used. I was a little worried that people would not be willing to read so much and to my amazement, people who came to the opening read them all! This created great opportunities for dialogue and connection. One woman required all of the children with her to listen to her read about Kwan Yin mask. I thought I would share some of what I wrote with you this next week.

While traveling in Kyrgyzstan, I learned about the “female Buddha” which inspired this mask. While Kyrgyzstan is now a mostly Muslim country, at one time Buddhism was practiced. Kwan Yin is often referred to as the female Buddha. According to one legend, she was a beautiful Indian princess who forsook marriage and the good life to live in a convent in order to become a truly enlightened human being. By turning her back on a life of luxury and seeking spiritual enlightenment, her life story is similar to the historical Buddha, Prince Siddhartha Gautama.

After having achieved enlightenment and the right to enter Buddhist Heaven or Nirvana, legend has it that at Heaven's gates Kwan Yin heard the despairing cry of someone back on earth. Upon hearing that sad cry, she quickly returned to the earthly plane, and vowed to stay there to help all those who suffer achieve the same level of enlightenment that she had, so that they too could enter Nirvana. Kwan Yin's name means "The one who hears the cries of the world."

The fabric that I used for the face and the neck are the same fabric only the face is the back of the fabric and the neck the front. It is one of my favorite fabrics and one that I wished I had bought lots and lots when I had the chance. Such is life!


  1. The history of Kwan Yin is very interesting. She underwent a gender change on her way from India to Central Asia. The origin was Buddha's disciple Avalokiteshvara, the "one who looks down on the world with pity". As the way the Bodhisattvas were pictured in India was very soft and seemingly female, this Bodhisattva was adored in the rest of Asia as a female one. Only Tibet called him Chenrezig and regarded him as a male deity. There was also the legend of the Tara who vowed to be reincarnated as a female being (which meant to accept great disadvantages in old India) until she would have liberated all beings. In China, these two stories seem to have been interwoven.

  2. I thought she was considered "The Goddess of Compassion".......I collected her to be on my kitchen altar during my breast cancer treatment.......I love your me good ideas!
    Love you much, Carol


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