Antique Mandarin Official Ancestor Figure, China (16433JSK) $595


H: 11.5”  W: 5”  D: 4” | FREE SHIPPING!

This well-carved  and remarkable ancestor figure is a lower-level Mandarin Civilian official seated on an armless yoke-back chair mounted on a plain rectangular base. He wears a traditional Mandarin jacket, an ankle-length skirt and a black velvet cap for winter or rattan woven hat in summer. His left hand is on his knee while the clenched right rests on the other one in an iconic Mandarin official pose. He is extremely well-carved with facial details showing his advanced age and he exudes an air of authority and status. In contrast to idealized ancestors, he is more individualized reflecting aspects of the actual person portrayed.



During the Qing Dynasty, reverence for Mandarin officials and their associated high status with it was so significant that families sought to perpetuate this image through the generations in carved and painted renderings of their ancestors. Ancestor-figures were the highest form of filial piety, and ancestor-worship was a cornerstone of Confucianism. Stuart (p. 82) states that ancestor-figures portrayed as a civil Chinese official were displayed like deities and rulers – as individuals to instill awe and devotion. They are generally, seated, as here, in an iconic pose clenching one hand with the other on a knee in a armless yoke back chair to emphasis high rank.  As this imagem they are removed from all worldly activity, encased in stillness and actions are confined to rigid almost lifeless gestures. The face was the main focus, generally depicted idealized rather than realistically, their facial expressions are dignified and detached with a “somber forward gaze” and inexpressive mouth with no indication of the sitter’s emotions, tastes, or personality. The carved portrayals emphasizes clothing, color, and decorations that reveal the ancestor’s social status which is the main function of the image and the family’s goal in commissioning it. This official wears traditional compulsory Mandarin officials-attire: a changshan coat – a long jacket with a high neck and front buttons worn over a long skirt – and the official headwear of Qing dynasty officials (qing guanmao), a rattan woven hat. The chair’s center back slat was omitted to allow for the back carved cavity indicating it was consecrated. This antique-Chinese-wood-carving has expected age cracks, some fading paint and wear on the surface of his face which otherwise, is in very good condition for its age and use. This piece is very similar to the ancestral figure of Yi Shoupeng auctioned from the private collection of scholar Keith Stevens in 2016.

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Jan Stuart and Evelyn Rawaski, Worshiping the Ancestors: Chinese Commemorative Portraits, Palo Alto, Stanford University Press, 2001

Keith Stevens, Chinese Gods: The Unseen World of Spirits and Demons, London, Collins & Brown Limited, 1997.

Keith Stevens, “Chinese Local Semi-Divine Deities” in Journal of the Hong Kong Branch of the Royal Asiatic Society, Vol 30, 1990, p. 75-88.


Additional information

Weight 6 lbs
Dimensions 14 × 10 × 6 in
Place of Origin



Antique, Qing Dynasty


18-19th Century

Materials and Technique


Dimensions (inches)

Ht: 11.5” W: 5” D: 4”

Dimensions (metric)

Ht: 29.21cm W: 12.7cm D: 10.16cm


2 lbs 2oz


Very good, patina and wear consistent with age and use

Item Number


Shipping Box Size