This one is daunting, but after the last few, it’s refreshing to know that when the post is over, I’ll sit back and say “that is way too lacking in information” not because there isn’t any information, but because there’s too much of it. Um, naturally, it’d be better if I didn’t sit back and say that at all, of course, but…I’m up to X. Of course I’m experiencing a little burn-out…
Xi Wangmu has been a pretty frequent inclusion in the more recent MegaTen games, but she didn’t start appearing until the PS1 era. Dunno why. Anyway, this is her compendium entry from the two Devil Summoner games:
A goddess revered in ancient China who grew popular during the Han Dynasty. Her palace was said to be atop the mythological Mt. Kunlun.
She is mostly human in appearance, with a distinctive headdress, as well as the tail of a panther and the teeth of a tiger
Originally she was said to govern the Five Calamities, but later came to be depicted as a beautiful sage and enshrined as the ruler of Mt. Kunlun.
Among her legendary encounters was Sun Wukong, who stole and ate the Peaches of Immortality.
And a more abbreviated entry from the Shin Megami Tensei IV games:
An ancient Chinese goddess who ruled over the Kunlun mountains. She was worshipped during the Han Dynasty.
She looks like a human, but is said to have the teeth of a tiger and tail of a leopard. She kept the peaches of immortality, which Wu Kong stole and ate.
Admittedly, the biggest difference there is that one says tail of a panther and the other says tail of a leopard, but…
Let’s move on to the real Xi Wangmu!
Er, to a small sliver of the real one, anyway. There’s a lot there. (Like, whole books of it.)
It should come as no surprise — given that the games tend to be at least relatively accurate, and that they get more accurate the closer to home things are — that what the game says is pretty much correct. It leaves out a lot, but it’s not wrong about anything, as far as I can tell. For about the first thousand years (give or take a couple of centuries) of her known existence, she was ferocious, and had…well, the Wikipedia page only mentions the teeth of a tiger, but I doubt the game simply made up the tail. After she became part of Taoism, though, that’s when she became the “Queen Mother of the West” that she’s been ever since. (“Queen Mother of the West” being the translation of Xi Wangmu, btw.)
This painting could easily be an influence on the game art, don’t you think? (Well, maybe not. But the colors are very similar!)
Anyway, after she ceased to be a dispenser of pestilence, then she did indeed become known as “the dispenser of prosperity, longevity, and eternal bliss” at about the time that China was prospering due to the added trade from the Silk Road, and the different regions were better able to get to know each other.
According to legend, she met with countless famous figures, including a long list of emperors, a number of heroes, and even the father of Taoism…and in one account, it was actually Xi Wangmu who wrote his famous Dao De Jing, one of the foundations of Taoism. (Or is Daoism the correct way to write it? The various pages on Wikipedia are inconsistent on that score…and I’m so tired I actually wrote “correction” instead of “correct” just now…)
Her home was not always said to be on Mt. Kunlun, but that seems to have become the default after a while. Likewise, sometimes she was said to grow the Peaches of Immortality, other times different peaches that only extended life, and other times they were merely nearby. She’s known for serving them to her guests, though, regardless of where they grew. (In that respect, she could be compared to Idun or Hebe, with their golden apples and ambrosia respectively…) And yes, Sun Wukong did steal them from her once, though I had to go through about five different Wikipedia articles to confirm that! (It was my own fault, though. When Xi Wangmu’s page didn’t say that, I should have just looked his up straight away.)
Bah. I need to stop writing these posts at night when I’m tired from work.