List of women warriors in folklore

List of women warriors in folklore

:See also: "List of women warriors in literature and popular culture"

This list of woman warriors in mythology and folklore offers figures studied in fields such as sociology, psychology, anthropology, film studies, mass communication, cultural studies, and women's studies.


Yoruba mythology

*Oya is the Goddess of the Niger River. She is the warrior-goddess of the wind, lightning, fertility, fire and magic. She creates hurricanes and tornadoes and guards the underworld. [ [ Oya at] ] .


=Native Americans=

*Chief Earth Woman was a nineteenth century Ojibwa. She claimed that she had gained supernatural powers from a dream, and for this reason, accompanied the men on the warpath.cite book | title=The Encyclopedia of Amazons | author=Salmonson, Jessica Amanda | publisher=Paragon House | year=1991 |isbn=1-55778-420-5| pages=p.56]
*Lozen was the sister of the Chihenne-Chiricahua Apache chief, Victorio (akas: "Bidu-ya"; "Beduiat"). She was born into the Chihenne band during the late 1840s. She was a skilled warrior and a prophet.
*Moving Robe Woman (Sioux name "Tashna Mani"), also known as "Mary Crawler", "Her Eagle Robe", "She Walks With Her Shawl", and "Walking Blanket Woman", was a Hunkpapa Sioux woman who fought against Custer during the Battle of Little Big Horn.

Aztec mythology

*Itzpapalotl is a fearsome skeletal warrior goddess who ruled over the paradise world of Tamoanchan.

American Revolution

The various accounts of "Molly Pitchers," patriot women who would man cannons to fend off the British during the war for independence.

American Old West

*Calamity Jane was a frontierswoman and professional scout best known for her claim of being a close friend of Wild Bill Hickok, but also for having gained fame fighting Native Americans.
*Annie Oakley was a sharpshooter and performer.

East Asia

=Historical China=

*Hua Mulan a legendary woman who went to war disguised as a man.
*Yim Wing-chun, often cited in Wing Chun legends as the first Wing Chun master.

=Japanese mythology and historical Japan=

*Hangaku Gozen was an onna bugeisha (woman warrior).
*Tomoe Gozen (1157?–1247?) was an onna bugeisha (woman warrior).
*Marisha-Ten the goddess of heaven who was adopted by the samurai in the 8th century CE as a protector and patron goddess. While devotions to Marishi-ten predate Zen, they appear to be geared towards a similar meditative mode in order to enable the warrior to achieve a more heightened spiritual level. He lost interest in the issues of victory or defeat (or life and death), thus transcending to a level where he became so empowered that he was freed from his own grasp on mortality. The end result was that he became a better warrior.

=Historical Vietnam=

*The Trung Sisters, (c.AD 12 - 43), known in Vietnamese as "Hai Bà Trưng" ("the two Trưng ladies"'), and individually as "Trưng Trắc" (Traditional Chinese: 徵側; pinyin: Zhēng Cè) and "Trưng Nhị" (Traditional Chinese: 徵貳; pinyin: Zhēng Èr), were two 1st century women leaders who successfully repelled Chinese invasions for three years, winning several battles against considerable odds, and are regarded as national heroines of Vietnam.


=Britons, Roman Britain and Anglo-Saxon England=

*Boudica was a queen of the Brythonic Celtic Iceni people of Norfolk in Eastern Britain who led a major uprising of the tribes against the occupying forces of the Roman Empire.
* Queen Cordelia (on whom the character in Shakespeare's King Lear is based), battled her nephews for control of her kingdom. [Geoffrey of Monmouth, p.286]
* Queen Gwendolen fights her husband Locrinus in battle for the throne of Britain. She defeats him and becomes queen.cite book|author=Geoffrey of Monmouth, translated by Lewis Thorpe|title=The History of the Kings of Britain|publisher= London, Penguin Group|year=1966|pages=p.286]
* Ethelfleda (alternative spelling Aethelfled, Æthelfleda, Æthelflæd) (872/879 – 918), Queen of Mercia, called "Lady of the Mercians". Daughter of Alfred the Great, she succeeded to Mercian power upon the death of her husband Aethelred, Ealdorman of Mercia (883-911), in 911. She was a skilled military leader and tactician, who defended Mercia against neighboring tribes for eight years.
* Margaret of Anjou, wife of mentally-ill Henry VI, emerged as the de facto leader of the Lancastrians during the War of the Roses. She introduced conscription, amassed armies, and won several battles before ultimately being defeated by the Yorks.

Celtic mythology and Irish mythology

*Andraste is a Celtic war goddess invoked [ [ Warrior queens and blind critics] ] by Boudica while fighting against the Roman occupation of Britain in AD 61. [Cassius Dio. [*.html Published online by Bill Thayer] . Cf. also the Gaulish goddess Andarta.]
*Medb (also: Medhbh, Meadhbh, Meab°, Meabh, Maeve, Maev) is queen of Connacht in the Ulster Cycle of Irish mythology. As recounted in "The Cattle Raid of Cooley", she started war with Ulster. [ [ Warrior queens and blind critics] ]
*Scathach is a legendary Scottish woman warrior who appears in the Ulster Cycle. She trains Cuchulainn.
*Aife is Scathach's rival in war; she becomes the lover of Cuchulainn and gives birth to his son Connla.
*Triple warrior goddess: Morrígan, Badb, and Macha (could also include Nemain and Anann)
*Grace O'Malley Legendary "Pirate Queen" of Ireland. She lived during the 16th century and serves as an important symbolic figure.

=Historical Czech=

*The story of Šárka and Vlasta is a legend dealing with events in the "Maidens' War" in seventh-century Bohemia.

=Historical France=

* Jeanne Hachette (1456 - ?) was a French heroine known as "Jeanne Fourquet" and nicknamed "Jeanne Hachette" ('Jean the Hatchet').
* Joan of Arc ("Jeanne d'Arc" in French) asserted that she had visions from God which told her to recover her homeland from English domination late in the Hundred Years' War. The uncrowned King Charles VII sent her to the siege at Orléans as part of a relief mission. She gained prominence when she overcame the dismissive attitude of veteran commanders and lifted the siege in only nine days. She was tried and executed for heresy when she was only 19 years old. The judgment was broken by the Pope and she was declared innocent and a martyr 24 years later.

Greek Mythology

* The Amazons (in Greek, _gr. Αμαζόνες) are a mythical ancient nation of female warriors. Herodotus placed them in a region bordering Scythia in Sarmatia. The histories and legends in Greek mythology may be inspired by warrior women among the Sarmatians.
*Artemis is the Greek goddess of the hunt, daughter of Zeus and Leto, and the twin sister of Apollo. She is usually depicted bearing a bow and arrows.
*Atalanta is one of the few mortal heroines in Greek mythology. She possessed great athletic prowess: she could hunt and shoot and wrestle almost as well -- if not better -- than a man. She is said to have participated in the Argonaut expedition, and is one of the central figures in the Calydonian Boar hunt. She was sought by many suitors, one of whom by the name of Melanion or Hippomenes she married when she was beaten by him in a foot race. The pair were eventually turned into lions, some say by Zeus, others by Aphrodite.
*Athena (Latin: Minerva) is the goddess of wisdom. Wearing a goatskin breastplate called the Aegis given to her by her father, Zeus [Zeus is also "Aegis-bearing Zeus".] , she is often shown helmeted and with a shield bearing the Gorgon Medusa's head, the "gorgoneion", a votive gift of Perseus. Athena is an armed warrior goddess, and appears in Greek mythology as a helper of many heroes, including Heracles, Jason, and Odysseus.
*Enyo, a minor war goddess, delights in bloodshed and the destruction of towns, and accompanies Ares -- said to be her father, in other accounts her brother -- in battles.
*Hippolyta is a queen of the Amazons, and a daughter of Ares. It was her girdle that Hercules was required by Eurystheus to obtain. He captured her and brought her to Athens, where he gave her to the ruler, Theseus, to become his bride.
*Penthesilea, in a story by the Greek traveler Pausanias, is the Amazonian queen who led the Amazons against the Greeks during the Trojan War. In other stories she is said to be the younger sister of Hippolyta, Theseus's queen, whom Penthesilea had accidentally slain while on a hunt. It was then that she joined the Trojan War to assuage her guilt. She was killed, and mourned, by Achilles, who greatly admired her courage, youth and beauty.

Roman Mythology

*Bellona is the Roman goddess of war: the Roman counterpart to the Greek war goddess Enyo. She prepared the chariot of her brother Mars when he was going to war, and appeared in battles armed with a whip and holding a torch.

Scandinavian folklore and Germanic paganism

*Blenda is the heroine of a legend from Småland, who leads the women of Värend in an attack on a pillaging Danish army and annihilates it.
*Freyja is a fertility goddess, the sister of the fertility god Freyr and daughter of the sea god Njörðr. Freyja is also a goddess of war, battle, death, magic, prophecy, and wealth. Freyja is cited as receiving half of the dead lost in battle in her hall Fólkvangr, whereas Odin would receive the other half. Some scholars argue that Freyja, Frigg, and Gefion are avatars of each other. She is also sometimes associated with the Valkyries and disir.
*Shieldmaidens in Scandinavia were women who did not yet have the responsibility for raising a family and could take up arms to live like warriors. Many of them figure in Norse mythology. One of the most famous shieldmaidens is Hervor and she figures in the cycle of the magic sword Tyrfing.
*The Valkyries in Norse mythology are female deities, who serve Odin. The name means "choosers of the slain" or "Chanters of the slain".
*Þorgerðr Hölgabrúðr and Irpa are two goddesses, described as sisters, that appear at the Battle of Hjörungavágr to assist the fleet of Haakon Sigurdsson against the Jomvikings. The two goddesses produce harsh thunderstorms, ferocious squalls, and shoot arrows from their fingertips, each arrow described as killing a man, resulting in the defeat of the Jomvikings.
*Hervor is character in the cycle of the magic sword Tyrfing. She disguised herself as a man and fought in combat.

=Historical Spain=

* Agustina de Aragón ('Agustina, maid of Aragon', also known as "the Spanish Joan of Arc") was a famous Spanish heroine who defended Spain during the Spanish War of Independence, first as a civilian and later as a professional officer in the Spanish Army. She has been the subject of much folklore, mythology, and artwork, including sketches by Goya. Her most famous feat was at the bloody sieges of Saragossa where, at the moment the Spanish troops abandoned their posts not to fall to nearby French bayonets, she ran forward, loaded a cannon, and lit the fuse, shredding a wave of attackers at point blank range. The sight of a lone woman bravely manning the cannons inspired the fleeing Spanish troops and other volunteers to return and assist her.
* Mariana Pineda was a Spanish national heroine, defender of liberalism and famous for her flag with a slogan embroidered in red: 'Equality, Freedom and Law'. After having been arrested, and refusing to betray her accomplices in exchange of pardon, she was publicly executed. She would inspire García Lorca's play "Mariana Pineda".

Near East

Ancient Egypt

*Ankt may have originated in Asia Minor. Within Egypt she was later syncretized as Neith (who by that time had developed aspects of a war goddess).
*Cleopatra VII was a Hellenistic co-ruler of Egypt with her father (Ptolemy XII Auletes) and later with her brothers/husbands Ptolemy XIII and Ptolemy XIV. Her patron goddess was Isis, and thus during her reign, it was believed that she was the re-incarnation and embodiment of the goddess of wisdom.
*Sekhmet is a warrior goddess depicted as a lioness, the fiercest hunter known to the Egyptians.

Mesopotamian mythology

*Ishtar is the Assyrian and Babylonian counterpart to the Sumerian Inanna and to the cognate northwest Semitic goddess Astarte. Anunit, Atarsamain and Esther are alternative names for Ishtar. Ishtar is a goddess of fertility, sexual love, and war. [Wilkinson, p. 24] In the Babylonian pantheon, she "was the divine personification of the planet Venus". [Guirand, p. 58]

Old Testament

*Deborah, a prophetess mentioned in the "Book of Judges", was a poet who rendered her judgments beneath a palm tree between Ramah and Bethel in the land of Benjamin. After her victory over Sisera and the Canaanite army, there was peace in the land for forty years.
*Jael kills the fleeing Sisera after his army is defeated. (Judges 4:17-21)
* An unnamed woman from the town of Thebes is mentioned in the Book of Judges (9:50-57) as having killed the would-be king Abimelech , who was besieging her hometown, by dropping a mill-stone on his head.
*Judith was a widow in the Book of Judith who foils the attack of Assyrian general Holofernes against Bethulia by beheading him.

outh Asia

Hindu mythology

*Durga ( _sa. "the inaccessible" [ "Durga." Encyclopædia Britannica. 2007. Encyclopædia Britannica Online. 25 Feb. 2007 .] or "the invincible" ["Durga" Sanatan Society .] , _bn. দুর্গা) is a form of Devi, the supreme goddess of Hinduism. According to the narrative from the Devi Mahatmya of the Markandeya Purana, the form of Durga was created as a warrior goddess to fight a demon. The nine-day holiday dedicated to Durga, "The Durga Puja," is the biggest annual festival in Bengal and other parts of Eastern India and is celebrated by Hindus all over the world.
*Vishpala (in "The Rigveda") is a warrior queen who, after having lost a leg in battle had an iron prosthesis made. Afterwards, she returned to fight. [cite web|url=|title=A Brief Review of the History of Amputations and Prostheses Earl E. Vanderwerker, Jr., M.D. JACPOC 1976 Vol 15, Num 5]

=Kerala martial arts=

*Unniyarcha: She was a chekava/Ezhava woman warrior from Kerala famous for her valour and beauty.


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