Quan Am Necklace

Relationship: Child of im/migrant
Quan Am Necklace
Quan Am Necklace

I knew that my parents met in Paris, France after individually escaping Vietnam during the peak of the heart wrenching war in 1970s. But it was only until after I heard about their experiences during those strenuous times that I realized the weight and history the necklace I wear everyday carried.

My father was raised Buddhist and my mother Catholic. The predominant religion and belief in Vietnam was Buddhism. Therefore, even though my mother and her family practiced Catholicism, there was still mutual respect and appreciation for Buddhism. More specifically, everyone held a certain Bodhisattva in extreme high regard; her name being Quan Am. She is also known as the Goddess of Mercy and Compassion.

When I became of age, I remember my mother reaching over me and gently locking a necklace across my nape. As she let go, I felt the weight shift as the pendant that hung on the chain tugged the necklace to fit snugly against the back of my neck. Looking up at my mother's collarbones, I realized that the necklace she gave me was the one she had been wearing for as long as I ever knew. Afterwards, my mother warmly gripped my shoulders and spoke to me the words that are still engrained in my mind today: “Never take this off, as Quán Thế Âm Bồ Tát (The Bodhisattva Who Listens to the Cries of the World) will protect and watch over you.”

I then came to understand that those were the same words and necklace my grandmother gifted my mom right before she sailed to Paris alone amidst the war.

To me, this necklace is an object of compassion and a connection to our history.

Place(s): Vietnam

– Krow Duong

Relationship:  Child of im/migrant Child of im/migrant