Antique Taoist Literature God on a Dragon, China (16615PBRK)


H: 15.5”  W: 5.5  D: 4.5” | FREE SHIPPING

This tall and thin image from South China is Wen Chan, the Taoist God of Literature and many realms associated with higher intellect, and education. He is a tall, extremely thin, surly, demon like image with ribs showing and facial distortions standing firmly on a dragon’s head  among waves holding his belt. As many house gods, Chinese turned to him for wealth, health, long life, and good fortune. Unlike ancestor figures, this carving was probably displayed independently in a prominent place in the office of a Chinese official or scholar. Increasingly difficult to find, this piece would enhance any desk, library, study, or other location.  It is in excellent condition with a warm patina, full of finely modeled details with a few surface scratches and paint losses consistent with its age.





Initially linked to the Big Dipper in Chinese mythology, Wen Ch’ang, (Wen Di, Kuixing k’uei) is worshipped in the 3rd and 8th months as the God of several spheres: literature, Books and Writing, Education, Learning and Examinations as well as being the patron saint of scholars. As one of the revered Taoist-deities, Chinese mythology hero and one of the house-gods closely associated with Confucianism, he is syncretic – a blend of many religious traditions. He is associated with the parable of a carp struggling to swim upstream who morphs into a dragon and reaches the Dragon Gate atop a waterfall, a metaphor for the rigors needed by scholars to pass imperial civil service examinations that leads to an influential post, security and wealth in the state bureaucracy. Excellence in scholarship was considered to be the main determinate of one’s rank and social status in Confucian society. Dragons, one of China’s most propitious, beautiful and friendly mythical-animals are the greatest divine creatures on earth, the ultimate symbols of the forces of Nature that bring abundance, prosperity, and good fortune.  Wen Ch’ang may also be shown holding a writing brush or rice measure with one leg kicking back, derived from the combination of Chinese characters making up his name that means “demon,” “dipper or bushel measure,” and “kick.” Temples dedicated to him are in most Chinese cities and statues of him were proudly displayed in scholars studies and desks by a wide range of literary persons including students, government officials, writers and calligraphers. He is part of the VA Spiritual-and-Inspirational Deities-and-Legends collection.

Additional information

Weight 7 lbs
Dimensions 18 × 12 × 6 in
Place of Origin



Antique, Qing Dynasty


18th century

Materials and Technique

Wood, polychrome, lacquer

Dimensions (inches)

Ht:15.5” W: 5.5” D: 4.5”

Dimensions (metric)

Ht: 39.37cm W: 13.97cm D: 11.43cm


1 lb 9oz


Excellent, fine patina demonstrating age and use

Reference Number