Thousand Hand Guan Yin


The holidays are upon us. While they can be enjoyable, the stress of shopping, back-to-back events, travel, and family gatherings can cause people to lose sight of the reasons for the season. Love, compassion for others, and joy are central themes for celebration this time of year. These are also all embodied in the goddess Guan Yin (a.k.a Quan Yin, Kwan Yin, Kannon, and several other similar names).

In the spirit of the season, I’ve posted the video above of the China Disabled People’s Performing Art Troupe in a performance of the Thousand Hand Guan Yin dance. The dancers in this amazing performance are deaf, and some are also mute. They perform the dance by following both the vibrations of the music and conductors who give them instructions in sign language. The significance of the thousand hands is this:

“As long as you are kind and there is love in your heart,
A thousand hands will naturally come to your aid.
As long as you are kind and there is love in your heart,
You will reach out with a thousand hands to help others.”

This quote has been attributed to Zhang Jigang, the troupe’s art director who choreographed the dance.

The China Disabled People’s Performing Art Troupe has performed all over the world, including at the opening ceremonies of the Beijing Olympic Games in 2008. In addition to dancers, the group also features musicians and singers with various disabilities, including blindness and conditions which keep them confined to wheelchairs. To find out more information on them and see photos from their touring show, visit their website for My Dream.

© Karen Joslin, 2010