The Dipper Mother
Legend has it that many ages ago, a great queen vowed to give birth to children who would help to guide the movements of the Tao. One fine spring day, she disrobed and entered a pool to bathe. Suddenly, she felt "moved," and nine lotus buds rose from the pond. The lotus, a symbol borrowed from Buddhism, signifies purity and spiritual enlightenment since it rises from the mud (representing the physical impurities of the world) to become a brilliant flower. Each of these lotus buds opened to reveal a star, including the seven stars of the Northern Dipper (Big Dipper), one of the most important constellations in Taoism. Subsequently, this queen was deified, becoming known as the "Dipper Mother."
This porcelain sculpture of the Dipper Mother depicts her as a heavenly goddess holding the sun and moon in her upraised hands. Her remaining 16 hands grasp various ritual implements and weapons.
Like the Saintly Mother, Heavenly Immortal of the Eastern Peak, the Dipper Mother rose to prominence in the Ming dynasty. She is still worshiped today in special halls devoted to her at Taoist temples like the White Cloud Monastery, head of the Complete Realization sect in Beijing.
Taoist Celestial Deity and Mother of the Seven Stars of the Northern Dipper (Ursa Major).
She is mentioned in the Taoist Canon where at least two biographies and a ritual devoted to her are to be found.
The 'Offering of the Nine Luminescences' commemorates the birth of the Seven Stars and is celebrated by Taoist worshippers on their birthday. This seems to have been based upon the Taoist Canon Scripture: 'Realized Scripture of the Nine Luminescences', which shows the unity in the teachings of Confucianism, Taoism, and Buddhism.
The Dipper Mother is still greatly revered today, both the White Cloud Monastery and the Northern Bushel Monastery celebrate her rites.
The Dipper Mother, an 18th-century white porcelain, blends Taoist and Buddhist iconography. This ten-inch-high work shows the mother of the seven stars of the Northern Dipper (Ursa Major). She has nine pairs of arms -- one for each of her children and the remainder for Violet Tenuity and Celestial August, two important stars in the central northern sky. The Dipper Mother sits on a lotus throne with two of her many hands clasped in prayer.
(My highlight...in violet, of course.;-) It's this kind of thing that I'm always looking for...
Oddly, Christie has nothing on Her. Ah well. I'll keep looking. ^__^ Please feel free to add.