- 人間社会学研究集録 (ISSN:1880683X)
- vol.1, pp.171-197, 2006-03-31
This paper describes various roles that Xiwangmu assumed in each historical era of China, referring to the descriptions of Xiwangmu and Nuhuo in the Chinese historiographies. Xiwangmu and Nuhuo were both revered as goddesses of hosts, and comparing these goddesses can give some insight into the relationship between the Central Dynasty and Western Regions to which Xiwangmu belonged, as well as the relationship between the Central Dynasty and the Chu Culture which Nuhuo was part of. Xiwangmu is repeatedly mentioned throughout all the twenty-five Chinese historiographies. This possibly proves that the figure of Xiwangmu had some degree of importance in the Central Dynasty and also gives an idea of how people in the era perceived Xiwangmu. Notably in Shiji and Hanshu documents, Xiwangmu is depicted taking multiple forms such as a queen of the West, goddess of longevity, and even as the name of a country. However, the uproar of the Xiwangmu religion in the "Emperor Ai" period of the Early Han was a turning point for Xiwangmu to gradually become recognized as a goddess of relief from death among the civilians. At the same time, it can be speculated that in the Central Dynasty, the conception of Xiwangmu as a guardian goddess of the Han Dynasty, which diverged from her role as the goddess of the Western Regions, started to prevail, consequently fully integrating Xiwangmu in the Han Dynasty. Here, however, there is a question of why Xiwangmu came to be viewed with such considerable importance. There appear to be two reasons for this. One reason is the conception of immortality typically associated with Xiwangmu. And the second reason is the existence value of Xiwangmu was elevated, replacing Nuhuo.