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16142

Image of the Queen Mother of the West
Item No. 16142

18th - 19th Century, Taoist / Popular Religions, China
Wood with Polychrome
11.5" x 4.75" x 3.75"
( 29.21 x 12.065 x 9.525 cm)
(H x W x D)

The Queen Mother of the West is regarded as the most significant female deity in the Taoist pantheon and is highly regarded in the Popular Religions of China as well. In China she is known as Hsi Wang Mu, the Royal Lady of the West. She lives in the Western Paradise in a golden palace on luxuriant grounds filled with peach trees that have a rich fragrance which can be discerned for miles. Even the unhappiest person can be lulled to sleep by their captivating aroma.

Small statues of the Queen Mother of the West such as this were probably placed on home shrines for private worship by Taoist, popular religion and even Buddhist devotees, as it was common to include images of all three religions along with ancestor figures on one altar placed in a significant part of the residence. She sits in the characteristic mode of smaller images with her left hand obscured by her robes and her right holding the edge of the sleeve between her thumb and the rest of the fingers of her hand. She wears a high collared robe, crossed at the neck and held at the waist with a sash. Her face is set in a pensive mode framed by elongated ears from which hang floral earrings. Set back on her head is a crown centered by her characteristic phoenix with spread wings which holds back her chignon. She sits on a backless red throne curved in the front to the shape of her body. In the back of the statue is a closed niche which probably contains messages to ancestors and sutras placed there during an Eye Opening Ceremony.

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