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Carving of the Queen Mother of the West
Item No. 16026

18th Century, Taoist / Popular Religions, China
Wood with Polychrome
34" x 16" x 21"
( 86.36 x 40.64 x 53.34 cm)
(H x W x D)

This image represents the Taoist goddess Xiwangmu, the Queen Mother of the West, who is associated with metal (one of the Five Elements), autumn, and the west, all aspects of the yin force. As a divine personification of yin, Xiwangmu was widely worshipped from the Han dynasty (206 B.C. A.D. 220) onward. One of the oldest female deities of China, she is mentioned in the Inner Chapters of the Zhuangzi (c. 300 B.C.) as a goddess who obtained the Tao.

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 worshipped today in China, Taiwan, and Hong Kong and among many overseas Chinese communities.

The Queen Mother of the West is recognized by a single phoenix in her headdress, her iconographic feature since the Yuan dynasty (1260-1368). The phoenix is an emblem of beauty, symbolizing the sun, and, in this image, is set off by a crown of ribbons. She wears a flowing red robe bordered in blue with a blue ribbon around her waist which flows down the center of her garment. Her hands are clasped together in front of her chest and originally held a tablet, common in Taoist figures.

This image, which in good condition, was probably made for use on a Taoist altar.

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