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Daoist Judge: Chinese wooden Temple Sculpture

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Directory: Antiques: Regional Art: Asian: Chinese: Folk Art: Pre 1900: Item # 594207

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Daoist Judge:  Chinese wooden Temple Sculpture

A WELL-CARVED, DAOIST WOODEN TEMPLE OR HOME ALTAR GOD (about 1880). With a stern though not ferocious visage, this is not a Buddhist temple guardian but rather a Daoist god, probably representing a judge (note the Ming style headdress). His seated posture, hands astride, and stern visage add to the sense that this judge demands accountability in the afterlife. The layers of official costume are well-textured in the carving and what remains of the pigment. The facial expression and hands are exceptionally represented in this carving of a genre which often tends towards rigidity or folk caricature. An open, narrow rectangular slot at back is traditional: it once held a small dedicatory scroll or talisman and was sealed. Carved apparently from one piece of wood, the essential round log shape is still obvious at bottom where it functions as a generous high pedestal, as well as the god’s high throne, which has probably extended the figure’s survival. The condition is good without lost members, though only a thin layer of gesso remains and the pigment and remaining gesso are flaking. One hand it seems once held an object, probably a rod or ruyi sceptre. Daoist imagery is slow to change and such images are thus difficult to date precisely though we believe this statue dates at least to the late 19th century (circa 1880). Additionally, there seems to be far less documentation of Daoist imagery and stylistic innovations compared to their Buddhist counterparts in China. Please be certain to view the extensive photographs below. We invite your comments. Dimensions: 37.5cm (15”) high and weighing 1kg 447 grams (3 lbs 3 ozs).

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