Ukesuteme, Mother of the West, aka Xi Wangmu

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Ukesuteme in Hotsuma Tsutae

Hotsuma Tsutae relates that at the time of Toyoke-sama, there lived a woman named Ukesuteme. She was a descendant of Ka-no-Kunisatsuchi who went from Hinomoto and settled in the land of Akakata in what is now China. These excerpts tell how she became known as Mother of the West. Her Chinese name is better known these days: Xi Wangmu or Hsi Wang Mu, Mother of the West.

Aya 15  Studying Michi with Toyoke

Ukesuteme was a descendant of Ka and of Toyokunnu of Akakata who lived by the Ama no Michi, the Way. When the Way declined in that land, around 3,000 years ago, Ukesuteme wanted to restore it. She knew that Toyoke of Hitakami had taught the Way. So she traveled from Akakata in China to Toyoke’s Yamate Palace in Hitakami, near today’s Sendai. She studied under Toyoke (Tamakine) with Kokori-hime (now known as the kami Shirayama-hime). This is described in aya 15.

Ukesuteme / nenokuni ni kite

Tamakine ni / yokutsuka fure wa

Mini kotae / Kokori no imoto

Musu hase te / yama no michinoku

Satsukemasu / yorokohi kaeru

Ukesuteme / Korohin kimi to

Chinami ai / Kurosono tsumoru

Miko umi te / Nishi no haha kami

Ukesuteme came to Ne-no-kuni

She studied well with Tamakine

She became sister to Kokori-hime

As they together mastered

The innermost secrets of To-no-Woshite.

Ukesuteme married the kimi of Korohin

And had a son of Kuroson

She is the kami, Nishi-no-haha.

In this aya verse, “yama” refers to important matters, while “michinoku” are the most secret teachings. Toyouke taught the Way of To-no-Woshite, the secret teachings of To-no-Kunisatsuchi. “Korohin” is the Hotsuma name of Konron or Kurosono.

Mother of the West, Nishi-no-haha

Ukesuteme, in Woshite analysis, means a strong, accomplishing, active woman. After Ukesuteme went west, back to China, she married the king of Korohin (Kurosono-kuni, Konron), and had a son. She is known by her Japanese name as the kami, Nishi-no-haha, or Seiobo, Mother of the West. Her name in Chinese is Xi Wangmu (Hsi Wang Mu) and she appears in a Chinese document around 500 years after the Hotsuma Tsutae was written.

In a history written by the Chinese writer Shibasen (Japanese name) there was a land called Akagata. Akagata/Konron is likely around the Choukou (Yangtze) river area, which became a place for Taoist hermits. Konron or Kuroso-no-kuni is a land connected with the sacred and hence it’s associated with the mythical Kunlun mountains as is Xi Wangmu.

Aya 24  Michimi Peach

From aya 24 of Hotsuma Tsutae:

Michimi no momo o / tamaure wa / hanami no momo wa / marenari to / kunitsuto ni nasu

The michimi peach / she received / rarer than the flowering peach / she took with her as souvenier.

Ukesuteme visited Hotsuma three times. The third time, Amakami Ninikine was ruling Hotsuma when she visited him. He presented Ukesuteme with the Michimi peach tree which she took home to China. Michimi means bearing 3,000 peaches.” Apparently she had only seen flowering peach trees in China, so an abundantly bearing peach was a delight. In art depicting Xi Wangmu, she is often shown holding peaches of immortality or standing under a flowering peach tree.

References

Julian Way  http://julian.way-nifty.com/woshite/2010/03/post-ccb2.html

Hotsuma Tsutae by JTC: http://www.hotsuma.gr.jp/aya/aya24-e.html, http://www.hotsuma.gr.jp/aya/aya15-2-e.html

Print of Seiobo Queen Mother of the West by Takeuchi Keishu, 1907, from ukiyo-e.org.

 

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