|The Butcher | Oil on canvas | 48 by 36 inches|
"The daughter of the cruel king.
There was once a princess by the name of Miao Shan. She was the daughter of a cruel king who had wanted her to marry a wealthy, but uncaring man. The daughter told her father that she would obey his command, so long as the marriage could ease three misfortunes.
When asked what they should be, the princess explained that the first misfortune the marriage should ease was the suffering that people endure as they age. The second being the suffering endured when people fall sick. And the third was the suffering caused by death. If the marriage could not ease any of the above, then she would rather retire to a life of religious piety.
When the king asked who could ease all the above, Miao Shan pointed out that a doctor was able to do all of these. Her father grew angry as he wanted her to marry a person of power and wealth, not a healer. Miao Shan was forced into hard labor, and given little food and water, but this did not cause her to yield. She in turn begged to be a nun instead of marrying.
Her father eventually allowed her to work in the temple, but made sure the monks gave her only the toughest chores to discourage her. Miao Shan worked all day and night, but she had such a kind heart that the animals living around the temple began to help her with her chores. The king seeing this, became so frustrated that he attempted to burn down the temple. Miao Shan put out the fire with her bare hands, but suffered no burns. This struck fear in her father, who later ordered her to be put to death.
The executioner who tried to kill the princess would be led to a chain of unsuccessful attempts. His axe shattered, while the arrows targeted towards Miao Shan would mysteriously veer away. Fearing the king might harm him for his incompetence, Miao Shan would eventually let herself die at the hands of her executioner.
It is said that she voluntarily took on the massive karmic guilt the executioner generated for killing her, thus leaving him guiltless. It is because of this that she descended into the Hell. She witnessed sufferings and horrors that the souls had to endure, and was overwhelmed with grief. Filled with compassion, Miao Shan released the good karma she had accumulated through her many lifetimes, thus freeing many suffering souls back into Heaven and Earth. In the process, the realms of Hell became a paradise. It is said that the king of hell sent her back to Earth to prevent the utter destruction of his realm, and that upon her return she appeared on Fragrant Mountain.
The Legend of Miao Shan ends with her father falling ill. No physician was able to cure him. Then a monk appeared saying that the illness could be cured by making a medicine out of the arm and eye of a person without anger. The monk further suggested that such a person could be found on Fragrant Mountain.
When asked, Miao Shan willingly offered up her eyes and arms. The king was cured of his illness and went to the Fragrant Mountain to express gratitude to his benefactor. When he discovered it was his daughter who had made the sacrifice, he knelt and begged for forgiveness.
The story concludes with Miaoshan being transformed into the Thousand Armed Goddess, and her family later building a temple on the mountain to honor her."