Carving of the Queen Mother of the West
Item No. 16035
18th Century, Taoist / Popular Religions, China
Lacquer over Wood
13" x 4.75" x 3.5"
( 33.02 x 12.065 x 8.89 cm)
(H x W x D)
This image represents the Taoist goddess Xiwangmu, The Queen Mother of the West, the most significant female deity in the Taoist pantheon, recognized by a single phoenix in her headdress. The phoenix has been a key feature of Xiwangmu since the Yuan dynasty (1260-1368) and is an emblem of beauty, symbolizing the sun. Xiwangmu was a patron deity of women, a divine teacher who could control the length of people’s lives and was closely associated with the cultivation of virtue and immortality. She is worshiped today in China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong and many overseas Chinese communities.
This seated image sits on a backless throne dressed in a graceful robe. Her left hand is covered by her flowing sleeve which is held by the thumb and pointer finger of her right hand, a traditional pose for the Queen Mother of the West. Her facial features with rounded carved eyebrows, rimmed eyes, rounded cheeks and pursed lips create an aura of solemnity and authority. Her headpiece with a flat sash framing her face is topped by a phoenix. Some traces of the original lacquer remain.
The back of the statue contains a cavity with the covering “bung” in place. This bung was placed there to conceal scriptures, messages to ancestors and other objects during an eye opening ceremony performed by a Taoist priest when the statue was first carved.
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