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16613

Carving of a Taoist Priest
Item No. 16613

19th Century, Taoist / Popular Religions, China
Wood with Pigmentation
19.25" x 11" x 7"
( 48.895 x 27.94 x 17.78 cm)
(H x W x D)

This vibrant image probably represents a Taoist priest. His hand is raised as if he held a rectangular pole and he is depicted as ready to instantly spring into action. He sits with his right leg bent and his left poised in front of him, his mouth held open and his wide open eyes glaring out intently. He wears a double winged cap centered with a Tao Tieh and framed with Chinese characters. The Tao Tieh is a mythical figure of just a face, with an open gaping mouth. It is a motif often found on ancient Chinese bronze vessels during the Shang dynasty. It is said to be the fifth son of a dragon and has such an appetite that it even eats its own head. Although there is no broad consensus, it is said to represent greed and sometimes viewed as a guardian figure. The figure comes from South China and has a closed bung in the back which was originally filled with selected ritualistic items and messages to ancestors and sealed during an eye opening ceremony. The contents are probably still present inside the closed cavity (bung).

Select for detailed information about Chinese Eye Opening Ceremony.

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