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High Official Seated on a Horseshoe Chair
Item No. 16330

18th - 19th Century, Taoist / Popular Religions, China
11" x 4.75" x 3.75"
( 27.94 x 12.065 x 9.525 cm)
(H x W x D)

This colorful court official was made in South China and sits on horseshoe chair, arms resting firmly on the arm rests with both hands clenched and feet spaced apart squarely on the plinth upon which he is seated. During the Ming and Ch’ing dynasties, both round backed and square backed horseshoe chairs were “markers of high status, seats of honour” (Clunis, p. 14). Thus, placing an ancestor on a horseshoe backed chair was a strong indication of the perceived status of individual being represented. He wears a winged hat and decorative long sleeved robes of an official, clasped at the waist and pulled aside to reveal a sash tied under his corpulent stomach (a sign of wealth and success). His face is framed with large ears, the signs of a wise being, and has a sense of benign strength, with partially closed eyes and a smiling mouth. Although much of the original pigmentation is worn, there is enough remaining to indicate that his robes were richly colored, with reds, blues, golds and gilt.


Craig Clunas, "Chinese Furniture," Victoria and Albert Publications, London, 1988.

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