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16471

Seated Ancestor Mandarin Official
Item No. 16471

19th Century, Taoist / Popular Religions, China
Wood with Polychrome
10" x 4.25" x 3.5"
( 25.4 x 10.795 x 8.89 cm)
(H x W x D)

This seated Mandarin sits on a red horseshoe chair with curved top rail set on an arched backrest and arched vertical splats, with and five short legs placed on a high pedestal with a curved apron. During the Ming and Ch’ing dynasties, both round 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. The left arm rests on the knee inside the arm rest, with the hand holding a long thin cylinder which might not be original to the piece. He wears a red Mandarin hat (which in real life was made of woven bamboo) which is conical in shape with a broad black band. He wears a black surcoat with five loops over his plain long gown (nei tao) which falls to just above the boots. His carved face with arched eyebrows, heavy lidded eyes, high cheekbones and thin lips is portrayed with considerable realism.

The figure was originally covered with lacquer and red pigmentation, much of which remains.

This carving was used on a home shrine. . 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 back of the carving contains two closed cavities into which the sutras (or scriptures) and messages to ancestors were placed during this ceremony.

Sources:
Valery M. Garrett, “A Collector’s Guide to Chinese Dress Accessories,” Singapore, Times Editions

Valery Garret, Chinese Clothing, An Illustrated Guide.” Hong Kong, Oxford University Press, 1994.

Select for detailed information about Chinese Ancestor Statues.

Select for detailed information about Statues of Chinese Officials.

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