This is a 2013 movie made in China which is set in the late T’ang period, when Buddhism has been enjoying Imperial patronage for some centuries. Now however a new Emperor has ascended the throne and he is set on the suppression of Buddhism, and the elevation of its rival Toaism.
The previous Emperor’s concubine requests and receives permission for a statue of Avalokiteshvara, in his form as Kuan Yin, to be made for her son Li Yi, who is feigning madness to escape being seen as a threat to the throne.
On the day the statue is successfully cast the craftsman who makes it finds an abandoned baby in a lotus pond; she is given the name Little Lotus, and her fate is forever tied to that of the statue, and throughout the story she is seen as the embodiment of the virtues of Kuan Yin exhibiting love, compassion, faith and forgiveness.
Meanwhile in Japan the country is being torn apart by internal strife, and the queen of one of the kingdoms requests the Buddhist monk Hui’e to bring back the statue of Avalokiteshvara, in the hope it will bring peace and prosperity to the country.
The story of Li Yi, Little Lotus and Hui’e are all intertwined and played out against this background, and the drama is an engaging story of court intrigue, Buddhist principles and personal commitment.
On a personal note, about 5 years ago I was given a Chinese audio CD with some of the most hauntingly beautiful singing I have ever heard; I didn’t have the cover and although I made several enquiries to try and find out what it was, I was never able to.
To my surprise and delight the music is used as part of the soundtrack in this film, and I now find it is a rendition of the Great Compassion Matra sung by Jing Shanyuan.