Queen Mother of the West


Queen Mother of the West

The Queen Mother of the West ( _zh. 西王母; pinyin: Xīwángmǔ; Japanese: "Seiōbo"), in Chinese mythology, is the ruler of the western paradise and goddess of immortality. She is charged with overseeing the Wall of Heaven. Her official Taoist title is "Yaochi Jinmu" (瑤池金母), or the "Golden Mother of the Shining Lake".

History

In popular Chinese mythology, the Queen Mother of the West lived with white cranes and red phoenixes in a golden palace by a lake, where she grew peaches. It was said the fragrance of the peaches of her palace could be smelled miles away, and the fragrance could put even the unhappiest person to sleep. She also possesses a peach tree which, every 3,000 years, produces peaches, known as "p'an-t'ao" (Chinese: "flat peach"), that grant immortality. Every 3,000 years she invites all the other gods to partake of a banquet with peaches for dessert.

Originally, from the earliest known depictions of her in the "Guideways of Mountains and Seas" during the Zhou Dynasty, she was a ferocious goddess with the teeth of a tiger, who sent plagues down upon the world. After she was adopted into the Taoist pantheon, she was transformed into the goddess of life and immortality.

Iconography and Representation

The Queen Mother of the West, called "Xiwangmu" in Chinese, is usually depicted holding court within her palace in Kunlun or the Western Paradise, surrounded by a female retinue of prominent goddesses and spiritual attendants. This court is depicted as being nearby to the orchard of the Peaches of Immortality.

She normally wears a distinctive headress with the Peaches of Immortality suspended from it.

Role

Xiwangmu's role within the system of Heaven is highly contested. Some legends claim that she is the mother of Jade Emperor whilst others claim that she is his wife.

References

*"Queen of Sheba and Biblical Scholarship" by Bernard Leeman (Queensland Academic Press) Westbrook Australia 2005 ISBN 0-9758022-0-8 [http://www.daoistcenter.org/Personages.html]


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