Celestial Attendant Holding a Peach
Item No. 16205
19th Century, Taoist / Popular Religions, China
Lacquer over Wood with Gilt
31" x 11" x 6.5"
( 78.74 x 27.94 x 16.51 cm)
(H x W x D)
This architectural carving represents one of the two the attendant to Hsi Wang Mu, Queen of the West, the Taoist deity of immorality and highest female in the Taoist pantheon. The Queen Mother of the West is traditionally depicted as a beautiful female princess, attended by two young girls, one carrying a large fan, and the other the peaches of longevity.
The Queen Mother of the West lived in the clouds upon the K’un Lun Mountains in an elegant palace noted for its sumptuous buildings, sparkling brooks and spectacular gardens in which grew the peach tree of the gods. This tree was said to bloom once every 3,000 years and to yield the fruit of eternal life, which ripened for another 3,000 years. These Golden Peaches gave immortality to the immortals and are the primary ingredient of the Taoist elixir vitae .which can bestow immortality on the rest of us.
The legend of the peach tree’s powers influences much of everyday life in China. Spring, especially during the first moon of the Chinese new year (February)is considered the most propitious time for marriage since this is when peach trees blossom in China.
In this elegant carving, the attendant is posed under a cloud canopy dressed in a high collared layered Taoist robe with flowing sleeves with her hair piled back behind a diadem, her body surrounded by a swirling celestial scarf, and holding the peach in her right hand. Much of the original lacquer and gilt remain.
Stevens, Keith: Chinese Gods, The Unseen World of Spirits and Demons, Collins and Brown Limited, London, 1997