Seated Ancestor with a Fan
Item No. 16174
19th Century, Taoist / Popular Religions, China
Wood with Polychrome
11" x 5.25" x 4"
( 27.94 x 13.335 x 10.16 cm)
(H x W x D)
This wood carving represents an official seated on a backless chair dressed in typical garb of a Mandarin: a triangular shaped cap, high collared coat buttoned half way down the front, an ornamental clasp at the waist, and held open at the bottom to reveal an undergarment which reaches to the tip of his pointed shoes. His left hand is placed on his knee and he carries a fan to his side in his right hand. Fans were traditionally held in the sleeve or waistband. Besides its ordinary use, fans were used to emphasize special points in speech, or to trace out characters in the air when the spoken word was not understood. Woman’s fans were different from men’s and rules relating to their manufacture were identified in decrees related to fashion. A man’s fan contained up to 24 ribs, but a woman’s fan had to contain more than 30 ribs.
This carving was used on a home shrine. The back of the carving contains a cavity into which was placed sutras (or scriptures) and messages to ancestors. The figure originally would have been brought to a temple, where it would have been given an “eye opening ceremony" performed by a Buddhist or Taoist monk. The original sutra is still contained in the open cavity.
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