Kuan Yin, a.k.a. Quan Yin, Kwan Yin, Guan Yin
For centuries, Kuan Yin has epitomized the great ideal of Mahayana Buddhism in her role as bodhisattva (Chinese p'u-sa )--literally "a being of bodhi, or enlightenment," who is destined to become a Buddha but has foregone the bliss of Nirvana with a vow to save all children of God.
The name Kuan Shih Yin, as she is often called, means literally "the one who regards, looks on, or hears the sounds of the world." According to legend, Kuan Yin was about to enter heaven but paused on the threshold as the cries of the world reached her ears.
There is still much scholarly debate regarding the origin of devotion to the female bodhisattva Kuan Yin. Kuan Yin is considered to be the feminine form of Avalokitesvara (Sanskrit), the bodhisattva of compassion of Indian Buddhism whose worship was introduced into China in the third century.
Scholars believe that the Buddhist monk and translator Kumarajva was the first to refer to the female form of Kuan Yin in his Chinese translation of the Lotus Sutra in 406 a.d. Of the thirty-three appearances of the bodhisattva referred to in his translation, seven are female. (Devoted Chinese and Japanese Buddhists have since come to associate the number thirty-three with Kuan Yin.)
Here she is in a reclining posture. Her right hand in a typical Karana Mudra, or hand gesture used to banish and repel negative energy. So while in repose she is never really at rest.