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The K'un Lun Mountains and Hsi Wang Mu In the Taoist Legend

In Taoist legend the K'un Lun Mountains are not the Tibetan peaks ; but the central mountain of the world, 10,000 It in height. There is the fountain of immortality, and from it flow the three great rivers. It is the same as the Hindu Sumeru.

Hsi Wang Mu (西王母) is used (1) as a place name, for the country of the Hsi Jung (西戎). "the wild tribes of the west " -- Tibetans (Giles). In, the Erh Ya (尔雅) it is explained as "the desolate land" (昏荒之地). In Huai Nan Tzu (淮南子) it refers to the borders of the Gobi Desert. (2) As the name of the Queen of the immortals.

Legend records that King Mu of the Chou dynasty (周穆王), in his extensive travels westward, visited the K'un Lun Mountain and saw the Royal Mother of the West (西王母) at the Emerald pool (瑶池) there.

Another legend states that Hon I (后羿) a mythical archer of renown, asked her for the drug of immortality, which his wife Ch'ang O (嫦娥) stole from him, and then fled to the moon, where she was turned into a toad.

In later Taoist legends there are "heavens" both for male and female immortals. The males live in a place called Tung Hua (东华), presided over by the 王公, while the females live in Hsi Hua (西华), with Hsi Wang Mu 西王母 as their head. Dr. Giles thinks the 西王母 is identical with the Greek Hera.


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