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Emperor Wu Zhao and Her Pantheon of Devis, Divinities, and Dynastic Mothers$
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Norman Rothschild

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780231169387

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231169387.001.0001

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Dharma Echoes of Mother Māyā in Wu Zhao

Dharma Echoes of Mother Māyā in Wu Zhao

(p.195) Eleven Dharma Echoes of Mother Māyā in Wu Zhao
Emperor Wu Zhao and Her Pantheon of Devis, Divinities, and Dynastic Mothers

N. Harry Rothschild

Columbia University Press

This chapter examines the role played by Buddhism in the complex machinations of Wu Zhao's political legitimation, with particular emphasis on the nature and political utility of her carefully scripted connections with the Buddhist female divinity Māyā. Māyā, also known as Great Māyā or Pure Wonder, the mother of the Buddha, joined other mother goddesses and exemplary mortal mothers who played a crucial role in the construction of Wu Zhao's pantheon of political ancestors and in the development of her political persona. This chapter traces the development, under Wu Zhao, of the cult of Māyā and how Wu Zhao utilized idealized images of motherhood associated with Māyā to cast herself as a latter-day “Buddha mother”.

Keywords:   goddess, motherhood, Buddha mother, Buddhism, Wu Zhao, Māyā, Buddha

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