Antique Mandarin Ancestor Figure, China (16479BLK)


H: 11”  W: 5”  D: 3.375” | FREE SHIPPING!

This ancestor figure is portrayed as a Mandarin civilian official indicating either his actual high rank or his family’s desire to depict him as one seated in a traditional official’s pose and dressed official Mandarin attire and high status boots. The three-character inscription on the pedestal seems to be a name 范 懋卿(Fan Mao Qing) that probably indicates his identity and/or the family who commissioned the image.





Designation as civilian Mandarin-officials was so significant that families fervently sought to perpetuate this image through generations in carved and painted ancestral renderings, especially ancestor-figures. This civilian Mandarin- official sits in the traditional official’s pose with arms on armrests in an an ornately carved high back chair detailed in front, a curved backrest, tall legs, short armrests, and vertical slats on a red pedestal, indicating either his actual high rank or his family’s desire to depict him as having it. During the Qing Dynasty government officials were compelled to wear the Manchu changshan for formal occasions which continued through the Republic of China in 1912. This antique-Chinese-carving shows him wearing Chinese-official headwear, a conical hat (guanmao) topped by a round finial, and a short traditional black Mandarin changshan coat with four buttons over his plain long gown (nei tao) with a red floral designed sash hanging under the jacket. Since his has no mandarin square identifying his rank, he is a civilian Mandarin official rather than a government official. The black boots with thick white soles are a sign of his status, as they were said to cost as much as a servant would earn in one year, according to Garrett, “…they were such a symbol of superiority that a proverb at the time stated ‘A man in boots will not speak to a man in shoes.” (Garrett, p. 74) His lacquer-hued face is portrayed as serene and kind, while his high-arched eyebrows, eyes, and facial hair are indicated with soft brushstrokes. The rear cavity indicates it was consecrated. Ancestor-figures like this were part of ancestor-worship and a display of filial-piety and would have been placed on a home altar along with other images of other deities.   The base has  and the second character is unreadable. This carving is in very good condition consistent with its age and use with a small chip, minor scrapes, and a crack and was retouched with paint long ago.

Click here for the Blog Consecrating Wooden Images to Imbue Them with A Life Force


Valery M. Garrett, A Collector’s Guide to Chinese Dress Accessories, Singapore,  Times Editions, 1997.

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



Additional information

Place of Origin



Antique, Qing Dynasty


19th Century

Materials and Technique

Wood, polychrome, lacquer

Dimensions (inches)

Ht: 11” W: 5” D: 3.375”

Dimensions (metric)

Ht: 27.94 cm W: 12.7 cm D: 8.57cm


1 lb 2oz


Very good, see description

Reference Number