After struggling to comprehend the needs of so many, his head split into eleven pieces. Amitabha Buddha, seeing his plight, gave him eleven heads with which to hear the cries of the suffering.
Wikipedia, Kuan Yin
The Wikipedia article fails to mention that the eleventh head belongs to none other than Amitabha himself. I suppose you could say it was a meeting of the minds.
In Eurpean mythology, anything with multiple heads is invariably bad news. But then, Europeans were fairly unique; few other cultures were ever quite as removed from, and hostile to, the natural world. To me, the eleven-headed Kuan Yin iconography springs naturally from the botanical metaphor already implicit in the lotus seat.
In Japanese folk religion, though, the many-headed Goddess of Mercy has a Rabelaisian counterpart in the triune Monkey, made famous by its representation at Nikko. Lorianne had some fun with this icon in a recent post:
I had hoped to contribute ten self-portraits to the marathon, so I’m still one shy of my goal…but I have until midnight tonight (or maybe early tomorrow morning?) to post one more attempt.
Until then, though, I’m behaving myself, seeing, speaking, and hearing no evil.
Hoarded Ordinaries (see image)
Seeing a bodhisattva in a thousand-leafed rhododendron — what could be more emblematic of monkey mind?