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Seated Taoist Official
Item No. 16911

19th Century, Taoist / Popular Religions, China
Wood with Polychrome
12" x 5.5" x 3.75"
( 30.48 x 13.97 x 9.525 cm)
(H x W x D)

This unique and interesting figure represents a Taoist priest or official. He wears an unusual four-sided hat that is painted red with gold highlights, black at the top and rear and that is centered in the front with a tao-tieh mask.

This term literally means glutton in Chinese and was used to describe the fantastic and mythological animals that decorated Shang and Chou Dynasty bronze vessels. The late interpretation that these masks were employed as a warning against indulgence is probably wrong, as it is more likely that they were special tiger masks with magical significance representing one of the great deities of the Shang pantheon. It is also generally accepted that it was also used as a guardian or protective figure to warn away bad spirits.

The figure wears a black undergarment with a wide red border that is crossed at the neck, which extends to the ankles; and its sleeves end at the wrists. The short coat over it has traces of its original bright red color with gold highlights which was lacquered and, in places, turned a very dark opaque red. Elsewhere where the are losses of this red color, it reveals the painted red-stained brown base coat. The figure wears a coat with a thick yellow border that is fastened with a clasp at the stomach, falls over the knees and whose sleeves end slightly past the elbow. The right hand is in a clenched fist and rests on the thigh, and the left is open with the missing thumb presumably tucked under the hand on the other thigh.

The figure's feet are bare and rest on a wide footrest that is attached to the backless throne, the rear of which is completely covered with a six-line inscription. There is also a closed bung at the back of the figure.

Select for detailed information about Chinese Ancestor Statues.

Select for detailed information about Chinese Eye Opening Ceremony.

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