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    Three Ming Dynasty Carved Wooden Daoist Figures with Polychrome

    Reign of Zhengde (1505–1521)

    heights: each approx. 29.5cm



    private collection, London.

    – scroll down to see further images –

    These three carved wooden Daoist statues of officials are decorated in polychrome and traces of gilt and are classically Ming in terms of their styling and colouring. (See Liu, 2008, p. 204, for a Ming carved image of an arhat for comparison.)

    Each is carved as a whole from a single piece of wood and show a seated official with long robes and a crown of the Song Dynasty (960–1279) emperor, and may in fact, be intended to represent deified Song emperors themselves.

    The face of each is delicately painted with facial hair including whiskers, eye brows and eye lashes.

    Two of the three are on red coloured dais or platforms. The third might have had such a platform but it has worn away.

    The back of one is impressed with the reign mark for the Ming emperor Zhengde (1505-1521).

    The three would have stood in a temple or the household shrine of a well-to-do Ming family.

    Each now shows considerable aging and wear. But each is in a relatively stable state and they look splendid as a group. Each stands freely and without needing support.


    Liu, Y. (ed.), Liaoning Museum, Chang Zheng Publishers, 2008.

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