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Taoist Heavenly Protector
Item No. 16120

18th - 19th Century, Taoist / Popular Religions, China
Wood with Polychrome
40" x 14" x 12"
( 101.6 x 35.56 x 30.48 cm)
(H x W x D)

This image represents a heavenly protector in the Taoist pantheon of deities to guard against evil. Although it is extremely difficult to identify specific Taoist deities, he is probably Wang Ling-kuan (General or Marshal Kuan), a second or third rank deity who is the traditional protector of Taoist scriptures whose image was placed at the entrance of Taoist and popular religion temples.

While not having all the attributes of Wang Ling-kuan, this image has several of the mot significant ones he has two normal eyes which are round and protrude slightly, while his third eye is vertical and at the center of his forehead; his body is protected by tiger armor in this case gilt maille under his elaborately decorated robe; and he wears a small Taoist crown. His hands are placed in a protective sign with the pointing and pinkie fingers extended and the other fingers bent, known as the angry fist or in some cases Golden light mudra which is used to cast out demons and ghosts. In the guise of a warrior, he has flared epaulets and rui type shoes with elaborately decorative accents.

Wang Ling-kuan guards against all forms of demons, attack and evil influences. He is the equivalent of the Buddhist guardian figure Wei T'uo who is placed at the entrance to protect Buddhist temples and sanctuaries. He is popular among villagers, especially pilgrims during their travels. He became deified and became of one the Twenty-four or Thirty-six Commanders of the Celestial Armies.

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