Guanyin protects the Bai


As depicted in the Book "Across China on Foot", by Edwin Dingle. 1911

Chap. XIX

In the famous temple ten li from Tali-fu is an effigy to the Yang Daren who figured conspicuously during the Mohammedan Rebellion. My men somehow got the false information that he was a native of Tong-ch'uan-fu, so they all went down on their knees and bumped their heads on the ground before the image. This Yang, however, was such a brute of a man that no young girl was safe where he was; however, as a soldier he was indomitable.

The temple in which he is deified is called the Kwan-ïn-tang, and there is no place in all China where Kwan-ïn is worshipped with such relentless vigor. Some years ago, so the wags say, when Tali-fu was threatened by rebels, Kwan-ïn saved the city by transforming herself into a Herculean creature, and carrying upon her back a stone of several tons weight, presumably to block the path. The amazement of the rebels at the sight of a woman performing such a feat made them wonder what the men could be like, so they turned tail and fled.

The story is believed implicitly by the residents of the city, and the priests, with an open eye to the main chance, work upon the public imagination with capital tact. I saw the stone in the center of a lotus pond, over which is the structure in which the Kwan-ïn sits, not as a weight-lifting woman, but as a tender mother, with a tiny babe in her arms, and none in the whole of the Empire enjoys such favor for being able to direct the birth of male children into those families which give most money to the priests.

Women desiring sons come and implore her by throwing cash, one by one, at the effigy, the one who hits being successful, going away with the belief that a son will be born to her. When the deluded females are cleared out, the priest, divesting himself of his shoes, and rolling up his trousers, goes into the water, scoops up the money and uses it for his personal convenience-sometimes as much as thirty thousand cash.

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