Origin of Kan-Non was not known well. But Kan-Non was well worshipped in Vietnam, Hong-Kong, China, Japan, and many Asian Countries.
Sometimes, Kan-Non was compared to Mother Mary and she is Buddhism's symbol of unlimited mercy as Mother Mary is for Christianity. It is said that she has 1000 hands to help and give mercy to people. Some of statues in Japan shows her 1000 hands. In Edo Shogunate age when Christianity was prohibited by Shogun Government, Christian people build statue of Mother Mary which looks like Kan-Non to hide their religion. I think either Mother Mary or Kan-Non minds it.
Kan-Non was deeply related to Japanese Buddhism history as well. When Buddhism was first introduced to Japan in 552 AD, it took some time to deeply founded in Japanese culture. Several Emperors promoted it not so successfully. Japan did have its original religion, Shinto, that time.
Queen Ko-Myo (701 - 760) was from non-emperor family, devout believer of Buddhism. She promised to clean and wash 1000 people so that they could understand the mercy of Buddhism. An old woman was the last 1000th person the Queen must have cleaned. This woman was a leper and demanded that Queen should have clean her fester skin with Queens tongues and lips. Queen Ko-Myo without hesitation kissed this old lady and cleaned her skin as requested. Not a half done, this old woman showed her real herself to Queen Ko-Myo. This old woman was Kan-Non changed her appearance, tested Queen's faith. Kan-Non promised Queen Ko-Myo Buddhism will be the first religion in Japan with her effort.
Encouraged by Kan-Non, Queen Ko-Myo continued to evangelize Buddhism and Buddhism became first religion in Japan. Today in Japan, Buddhism lives with people and it is almost impossible to separate Buddhism from Japanese daily lives.
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