[Footnote AT: The commercial center of Tali-fu, the official city is 30 li further on—E.J.D]
[Footnote AU: From Peking to Mandalay, by R.F. Johnston, London, John Murray. I am indebted to this racily-written work for other ideas in this chapter.—E.J.D.]
[Footnote AV: From inquiries I find this custom is not general in some parts of Western China—E.J.D.]
[Footnote AW: Temple to the Goddess of Mercy.
“Kwan-in was the third daughter of a king, beautiful and talented, and when young loved to meditate as a priest. Her father, mother and sisters beseech her not to pass the ‘green spring,’ but to marry, and the king offers the man of her choice the throne. But no, she must take the veil. She enters the ‘White Sparrow Nunnery,’ and the nuns put her to the most menial offices; the dragons open a well for the young maidservant, and the wild beasts bring her wood. The king sends his troops to burn the nunnery, Kwan-in prays, rain falls, and extinguishes the conflagration. She is brought to the palace in chains, and the alternative of marriage or death is placed before her. In the room above where the court of the inquisition is held there is music, dancing, and feasting, sounds and sights to allure a young girl; the queen also urges her to leave the convent, and accede to the royal father’s wish. Kwan-in declares that she would rather die than marry, so the fairy princess is strangled, and a tiger takes her body into the forest. She descends into hell, and hell becomes a paradise, with gardens of lilies. King Yama is terrified when he sees the prison of the lost becoming an enchanted garden, and begs her to leave, in order that the good and the evil may have their distinctive rewards. One of the genii gives her the ‘peach of immortality.’ On her return to the terrestrial regions she hears that her father is sick, and sends him word that if he will dispatch a messenger to the ‘Fragrant Mountain,’ an eye and a hand will be given him for medicine; this hand and eye are Kwan-in’s own, and produce instant recovery.
“She is the patron
goddess of mothers, and when we remember the
value of sons, we can understand the heartiness of worship.”—The
Three Religions of China, by H.G. Du Bose.