Chinese Goddess

Doumu

Doumu (斗母), whose name means “Mother of the Big Dipper,” is one of Chinese mythology’s foundational deities. She is the female counterpart to Tian, the Daoist concept of male heavenly energy, and embodies mercy and love.

By Mae HamiltonLast updated on Nov. 22nd, 2021
  • Is Doumu associated with any other goddesses?

    Doumu shares both roles and honorifics with several other goddesses, including Xiwangmu, the Queen Mother of the West, and Mazu, the goddess of the sea.

  • Why is the Big Dipper constellation so important to Doumu?

    The stars of the Big Dipper are not only as Doumu’s sons, but also as a manifestation of the God of Heaven, making Doumu mother and wife of the God of Heaven.

As the female equivalent to Tian (天), the male half of the Chinese concept of heavenly energy, Doumu (斗母) is the mother of the Big Dipper. In some Taoist texts, she is thought to be the goddess, Xiwangmu (西王母).

Etymology

This goddess has a few titles, but the most commonly used one is Dǒumǔ (斗母), which means “Mother of the Big Dipper.” Since the Big Dipper constellation was looked upon as a chariot in ancient times, she’s also called Dǒumǔ Yuánjūn (斗母元君), or “Mother of the Chariot,” or Dòulǎo Yuánjūn (斗姥元君), meaning “Ancestress of the Chariot.” She’s sometimes simply referred to as Tiānhòu (天后), meaning “Queen of Heaven,” or affectionately as Tiānmǔ (天母), which means “Heavenly Mother.”

Attributes

Doumu is characterized by her kind face and sixteen arms. Usually, two hands are clasped in front of her in prayer while the other 14 hold various objects of religious significance.

Family

Doumu was born when the universe was created by Pangu (盤古). She is the mother of the Jiǔhuángshén (九皇神), or the “Nine God-Kings” heaven. They were believed to be represented in the night sky by the seven stars (and two not visible to the naked human eye) that surround the Big Dipper.

Family Tree

  • Children
    son
    • The Jiǔhuángshén

Mythology

There aren’t many myths surrounding Doumu, however she was significant because of her role as a cosmic female deity. She was the embodiment of mercy and love. According to legend, she may have even played as hand in Huangdi’s mother’s (Fubao) virginal pregnancy.

Pop Culture

There is a district in Taipei, Taiwan that bears the goddess’s honorific name, Tianmu.

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