Avalokiteśvara, the Bodhisattva of Compassion in Mahayana Buddhism , is the most celebrated and respectable deity in Chinese religions and beliefs .
More commonly known as The Goddess of Mercy Guan Yin in Chinese cultural context, the Buddhist art interpretation to this multi-forms manisfested Bodhisattva in painting, mural, statues and etc have been in lavish varieties thourghout the centuries, from imperial court painting to folk art, from Sui Dynasty till Ching dynasty.
I have to say since Ching dynasty, consistency has been inspected in Guan Yin's image, and no more spark of creativity and innovation in art interpretation, until i saw this one~~~
The first photo in this entry is the centerfold found in Southern Screen (Dec, 1964), Li Li Hua was painted as the Goddess Guan Yin. Artist unknown, this photo is the prelude for the 1966 release of Shaw Bros "The Goddess of Mercy".
In the portrait, you see comical dragon with rather inoccent big eyes, the bizzare hybrid of bamboo, the combination of 3 images of Traditional Sino-Buddhsim 33 Guan Yin Manifestation (The Fish Basket Guan Yin, The Ekādaśamukha, The dragon Head Guanyin), the fashion that combines the element of Indian, Tang dynasty and Ching Dynasty Han's Chinese element, the vivid colour elements which reminded me of Bollywood movies and Thailand's commercial pop art~~
Well, the most interesting part would be the face of Li Li Hua at her middle age, has instilled a new significance not only to buddhist art, but also to herself.
In terms of Buddhist art, Guan Yin has always portarying a compassionte gaze and implicit neutrality, that always ready to listen to the suffer of the mortal world and to save the suffered and tortured. However, Li Li Hua has somehow potrayed a dignified and fierceful look, it was so unquestionably authoritative and fearsome, with no resemblance of the stereotyped, but somehow reminded me of surviving image of Empress Dowager Tzu Hsi (Ci Xi) dressed herself up as Guan Yin.
Regally make-up and makeover since late 50s, Li Li Hua has been really ambitious in her acting career and commited in fighting the aging process, whom finally her hard effort has paid. From the much threaten movie queen status, she transcended her status to the immortal "Evergreen lady" in the Chinese Silver screen, established herself as the only "ageless legend", with career spanned more than 4 decades as leading lady, this has been a miracle in chinese film history.
Movie still of the scene of Guan Yin martyrdom in flaming fire
Just a small gossip in regard to this movie, it has been reported that when The Goddess of Mercy (1966) shown in cinema of Taiwan, some devotees has actually burnt the josssticks and brought along offering into cinema, to worship the scene where Li Li Hua transcending to Heaven and becoming the deity~~ abit cultish it seems~~
I even wandered, has anyone actually bought this issue of Southern Screen, had the poster teared and framed , in order to worship it at the altar of the house??
Well, this movie title has been available in DVD home video, and I'm still yet to watch it~~
Pop Art + Avalokiteśvara Bodhisattva = Li Li Hua , that's my short summary...