I told you legend about appearance of Chinese zodiac. There are many many many legends and myths in this stunning, culturally and historically rich and spiritual country. They are mostly related to legendary creatures, human beings with special abilities and special characteristics.
Also if you are interested in other mythological creature read ancient Chinese masterpiece “Journey to the West”. It is about Monkey King- creature and warrior that is half human half monkey.
It is myth about most famous Chinese and East Asian deity- Guanyin( literal translation the one who hears all sounds of world)- Goddess of Mercy and Compassion, guardian of happiness, guardian of women, couples and children. Many Chinese wear jade or wooden pendants of her around neck for good luck and protection. She is also associated with fertility and her special protection is for pregnant women- thus pregnant women wear pendant of her small figure. Also in majority of home altars she is in center and major deity that takes there main position. She is most worshipped deity in China also she is very important in Vietnam, Korea, Japan and Thailand. She is both Taoist and Buddhist deity who according to teachings aims to make all beings happy and wont get into nirvana until all beings are happy as she cannot stand suffering of anyone. Therefore she is often described with 1000 hands and 1000 eyes in order to help everyone and see everything. Chinese Daoists regard her as legendary princess Miaoshan or other pre Daoist deity. Chinese Buddhists consider her as incarnation of male Buddhist deity Avalokitesvara.
Legend goes like this- once upon a time there was princess called Miaoshan. She was very beautiful child and later very beautiful young girl. Despite wealth that was in palace she was modest and never exaggerated in money or in food. Servants called her girl with heart of Buddha. When she became old enough for marriage father wanted to marry her for rich but evil man. Miaoshan said that she will marry only if marriage will bring 3 sufferings to an end- suffering of getting old, suffering of illness and suffering while dying. If this marriage cannot end all 3 sufferings to all beings she will accept to live alone and help as much people as she can. King got too angry and decided to expel daughter from palace. She went to White Sparrow Monastery and started to live monastic life. Suddenly she got some super abilities and in temple garden she could make flowers bloom and crops grow during winter when snow was everywhere around. When her father heard about that he got to angry and ordered to nuns to make her to do very hard works such as to chop wood and work too much in kitchen. But she did it without difficulty and she got respect from nuns. Once she was even accused for having sex with a girl what was plot set by servants of her father. Also once when she was in forest father sent a killer but his axe and sword fell apart when he tried to hit Guanyin( Miaoshan). Also arrows fell apart and couldn’t hit her. Lastly her father was so angry that he sent large army to destroy monastery and kill all nuns and even his daughter. While they were approaching temple large fog covered all monastery. When fog passed away they entered monastery and executed everyone but they didn’t find Miaoshan. She was saved by one spirit or according to another version by tiger who took her to cliff of Xiangshan( Fragrant Mountain). She started to live there alone eating leafs, grass and drinking from stream. She became as close as possible to nature. Guanyin used to meditate, be in nature and always helped someone anywhere when she heard that someone needs any kind of help. She used to ride Black or Green Dragon to any destination and often she saved sailors and fishermen in need in the South and East Sea and therefore is considered as guardian of sailors. Once she achieved enlightenment she was always on Fragrant Mountain as place of her peace but she used to move to Mount Putuo on East Sea.
Here comes her story of doing good when Shancai a disabled boy with crippled legs heard about living of Guanyin on the rocks of Mount Putuo in order to ask her to be her disciple. Guanyin to test his commitment to Taoism and Buddhism created illusion of 3 pirates who were coming from Sea to catch her and kill her. Shanchai started crawling towards rock to save Miaoshan while climbing he started to fall down but Miaoshan caught him and put him on Earth and suddenly he could walk normally and when he saw his face in sea he wasn’t ugly anymore but beautiful boy. Guanyin accepted him to be her disciple.
Her story continues when Guanyin and Shanchai went to the South Sea. It happened son of one of Dragon Kings turned himself into fish but he got caught by fisherman and while on surface he couldn’t turn back to form of Dragon. Dragon King asked Guanyin for help. She gave money to Shancai and sent him to market to save fish from being sold. Fish was still alive on market after few hours so people started to bargain to buy her in order to eat her as they thought that such long living fish on surface must guarantee them immortality. Shancai didn’t had enough money and asked fisherman to spare life of fish and people got angry on him. But voice of Guanyin was heard and she said that life belongs to someone who wants to save it not to someone who wants to take it so crowd got ashamed and left the fish to Shanchai. He returned fish to sea and it took back form of Dragon. Dragon King as a reward sent his granddaughter Longnu( Dragon Girl) which turned into human like girl holding Pearl Light. So she became another disciple of Guanyin and Guanyin, Shanchai and Longnu continued together to spread good, help people and be compassionate with guidance of Pearl Light.
Story ends when Guanyins father got severely sick and monks said that only eyes and hands of one with no anger could save him. Miaoshan heard about it and gave monks her both hands and both eyes. King was cured and went to Fragrant Mountain in order to thank to his savior. He recognized that it was his daughter and started crying asking for forgiveness. Guanyin forgave him. Finally she achieved enlightenment rays from sky came and higher energy gave her thousand eyes and thousand hands. She was supposed to reach nirvana but seeing what all kinds of sufferings exist she rejected and wanted to stay to help until all beings are saved from suffering what means that she wants to help forever to anyone in need. Her father, mother and sisters built a new temple on Fragrant Mountain and it was called Fragrant Mountain Temple where Guanyin meditates, studies and gardens until there is some need to help. That’s how this legend ends. Origins of legend of Miaoshan are unclear.
Another reason why she is respected by Daoists is that she is incarnation of Queen Mother of the West or Cihang Zhenren( a perfected deity). Queen Mother of the West almost originates from Chinese neolith while Cihang Zhenren from Shang dynasty.
That’s why Chinese people appreciate her
NOTE: Don’t confuse Fragrant Mountain with Xiangshan( Fragrant Hills or Mountain) near Beijing and former Fragrant Hills Temple( XI century) which was burnt completely. About Fragrant Hills near Beijing I wrote many times and probably got name in honor of probably fictional Fragrant Hills from story of Guanyin and lastly there is Guanyin pavilion on Fragrant Hills.
ENjoy China 😉