Our Lady of the Western Paradise

Our Lady of the Western Paradise, Relief Sculpture in Polymer Clay

Xi Wang Mu, the Queen Mother of the West, was a mysterious figure from Chinese myth and legends who lived in a palace of pure gold high on the mythical Mount Kunlun. In her garden grew the Peaches of Immortality, a mystical fruit that took 3000 years to grow.  Whenever she left her Western Paradise she traveled on her sacred Fenghuang, a mythical bird commonly referred to as the Chinese Phoenix (although it has no true connection to the phoenix of the western world). This mythical bird combined characteristics of several other birds and came to symbolize the Empress when paired with a dragon, which represented the Emperor.   For a time around the end of the first millennium BCE, a cult formed around the queen and men sought to join her in the realm of immortality. She also became a female divinity in the Taoist religion.  However, in the earliest references she was treated as a real life ruler of some unidentified western state.  So there may have been fragments of historical truth behind the tale of her magical fruit and golden palace.

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