Antique Ancestor Figure in Official’s Attire, China (16752)
H: 34″ W: 11.25″ D&.25″
Although this wonderfully carved antique figure portrays an ancestor depicted as an official, his atypically benevolent and finely modeled face makes him a very endearing figure. Old and weathering from age in its rear, this piece was repainted probably in the 20th century, as was always periodically done with old figures with losses, here especially due to the seasonal South China climate. With his individualized convincing features, he is a very relatable rather than authoritarian figure, possibly resulting from the affection of the family that commissioned it.
Civilian Chinese-officials in dynastic China were awarded much desired positions after passing rigorous exams, as the selected few were assured high status positions, a comfortable living and retirement benefits. Families did their Confucian duty portraying their ancestor-figures in paintings and carvings and memorializing and honoring them by maintaining their filial piety by displaying their images on a home altar or, perhaps with a large carving like this, in a separate room or ancestral hall. Ancestor-worship was a significant port of Chinese lifestyle. This colorful antique-Chinese-wood-carving was probably carved in the 18th-19th century displaying the ancestor in officials-attire seated on a backless chair atop a plinth in a traditional official’s posture also affirming his high position. The feet rest on the pedestal, his right hand reinforces his status by holding up his girdle belt of office, the left rests firmly on his knee and he his pendulous ears signify his wisdom. His face is realistically carved with almond-shaped eyes and slightly smiling pursed lips in a calm rather than a traditional stern expression. Due to the now well contained insect infestation in the rear and likely fading paint, he and his attire have been repainted in bright colors. Ornate patterns cover his robe with long flowing sleeves, black borders and red inner linings. His painted white face has red lips, half-closed eyes and high eyebrows, and this likely mid-century repainting leads us to speculate the piece is likely from Qing South China. The large now-empty back cavity in which a Buddhist sutra (scriptures) or Taoist tracts, favorite poems, messages to ancestors and other items were placed during an eye-opening ceremony indicates this carving was consecrated by a Buddhist or Taoist monk.
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|Place of Origin||
Antique, Qing Dynasty
|Materials and Technique||
Ht: 34". W: 11.25". D: 7.25"
Ht: 86.36cm W: 28.575cm D: 17.415cm
Rear and sides show insect wood losses, confirms its age, repainted.
|Shipping Box Size|