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Taoist Priest Holding Ritual Items
Item No. 19436

19th - 20th Century, Taoist / Popular Religions, China
Lacquer over Wood and Polychrome
10.25" x 4.5" x 2.5"
( 26.035 x 11.43 x 6.35 cm)
(H x W x D)

This Toaist priest sits on an extremely short backless raised pedestal. His three-quarter length plain red outer robe with long sleeves is bordered in black, clasped above the waist and held open to reveal a dark grey-green long undergarment tied under his stomach with a belt with double sash which extends to the border of his robe. He wears a three-lobed and winged cap centered with painted images of a tao tieh on each lobe. A tao tieh is a mythical figure consisting of a face with an open gaping mouth, and it was a motif often found on ancient Chinese bronze vessels during the Shang dynasty. Although there is no consensus, the tao tieh is said to have had such an appetite that it even eats its own head. It is also said to represent greed and sometimes is viewed as a guardian figure.

In his left hand the priest holds a ritual cup, and his raised right hand holds a tablet, an object characteristic of Taoist officials. The cup probably symbolizes an exlir associated with the assurance of long life. His well-carved face has a slight smile with gently curving lips and portrays signs of age in the creases on his forehead and around his lips. The creases in the mouth and forehead and the framing of the face with pendulous ears are signs of wisdom. The bung that covers the back cavity is still sealed and probably contains sutras, messages to ancestors and string and sticks representing the innards and bones of the figure, which were placed there during an eye opening ceremony.

Select for detailed information about Chinese Eye Opening Ceremony.

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