Queen Mother of the West

Kano Osanobu Japanese

Not on view

The Queen Mother of the West, the Daoist immortal known in China as Xiwangmu (Japanese: Seiōbo), was one of the most popular Chinese themes among painters in premodern Japan. Believed to reside on Mount Kunlun, a mythical paradise in the far west of China, she is a formidable deity in the ancient Daoist pantheon. In paintings, Xiwangmu is usually depicted with the image of a phoenix on her headdress, as in this work, and with an attendant holding a bowl of peaches, a symbol of longevity. The peaches in her orchard ripen every three thousand years.

Osanobu, the last great master of the Kano school before the end of the Tokugawa regime, was also an antiquarian and copied ancient Chinese and Japanese paintings.

Queen Mother of the West, Kano Osanobu (Japanese, 1796–1846), Hanging scroll; ink and color on silk, Japan

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