X is for Xi-wang-mu
Symbols in Stories from Around the World
So the letter “X” is always tricky and rather than doing “X-tra” or something of that sort, I wanted to honor Xi-wang-mu, Queen Mother of the West (China). She came to be before Taoism though usually still attributed as being part of Taoism. Xi-wang-mu is pronounced Shee Warng Moo.
Stories of Xi-wang-mu grew in popularity when the Silk Road, or trade routes connecting the East with the West, were made safer to travel. The following alternative names for her were: His-wang-mu, Wang-mu-niang, Weiwobo, His-wang-mu, Seiōbo (Japan), Seowangmo (Korea), and Tây Vương Mẫu (Vietnam).
She has been pictured as a beautiful young lady full of grace and calm as well as an older woman who sometimes shares features of a tigress and a leopard’s tail. The throne upon which she sits has been known as the “Dragon-and-Tiger Throne.”
The ferocity comes from her ability to send forth diseases and dangers to the people on earth. Despite these banes, she also holds the elixir or herb of immortality. She lives among the Kunlun Mountains (Western China) where special peaches also promise immortality. She often wears a headdress where these Peaches of Immorality hang from it. She sometimes flies the skies upon a crane, which symbolizes long life. She also connects with jade, also associated with longevity.
Of the yin and yang symbol, Xi-wang-mu is part of yin and stands for women including female musician and prostitutes. As such, she is linked to sexuality, especially when drawn or honored in her elegant young lady form. However, when Xi-wang-mu sits upon the Dragon and Tiger Throne, then the yin and yang are present and unified. Females and males are respected.
Stories that feature Xi-wang-mu:
- “Peaches of Immortality,” Chinese tale, Xi-wang-mu serves peaches to her guests—usually deities— to grant immortality in honor of her birthday
- “Elixir of Life and the Celestial Archer” Chinese tale, Xi-wang-mu took pity of Yi when he shot down nine of the ten suns to prevent the earth from burning but Yi’s wife drank the elixir instead
Do you know any stories that feature Xi-wang-mu? Do you know similar characters as Xi-wang-mu? Please comment below and share with others.
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