Antique Nuo Opera Mask of Tudi Gong, China (16574BAK) $575


H: 10.5”  W:7.75”  D: 3” | FREE SHIPPING!

This amusing antique Nuo Opera mask portrays Tudi Gong, the benevolent Earth god with a smiling animated face, long eyebrows, a hemp beard and large ears  wearing a high decorative hat. Tudi is a zhengshen, a god who is kindly, honest with a gentle disposition, symbolizing the great power of good, through which evil can be defeated. Nuo was popular during the Ming and Qing dynasties and although they are still performed in rural areas, there are few remaining troupes.




Nuo Chinese-Opera performances are religious dramas and operas as well as secular entertainment based on historic events, folktales, or literature that are still popular among ethnic groups along the Yangtze River. The two types of performances include the grand Nuo ceremony held by the royal court during national holidays, and local performances exemplified by this mask performed in rural and provincial areas where masks were considered family protectors and placed in homes to repel misfortune and bring good luck. They were realistically carved with accurate proportions and followed strict canons of presentation. Made of light wood, they were painted to identify facial features and covered with a lacquer coat, with cutouts of the eyes and mouth. Masks were believed to enable performers to communicate directly with deities. This Qing antique-Chinese-wood-carving mask represents Tudi Gong, one of the Chinese Earth-Gods considered among the Deities-and-Legends, who protects towns and villages, and the fortune of common people. As one of the lesser Taoist-Deities, he is a both a syncretic god followed by a broad range of devotees and a tutelary deity responsible for protecting a specific location and is revered as a zhengshen, a kindly, honest god with a gentle disposition who symbolizes the power of good, through which evil can be defeated. Masks of him reflect the ideal of what a kind and good deity should look like: “benevolent brows, benign eyes, wide kindly face with big ears and smiling countenance; and they are painted with soft and harmonious colors ” (Li). This mask is in very good condition consistent with age and use, with original pigmentation of black and red which represents positive virtues of loyalty, heroism, and courage. Since 1949 government campaigns against superstition destroyed most antique masks that are now considered Chinese folk-art and ethnic treasures (CITS). This fine and joyous antique-Chinese wood-caving mask is part of the VA Collection of Deities-and-Legends

Click here for the Blog Tudi Gong: the Taoist and Popular Religion Earth God.


Lan Li, Popular Religion in Modern China: The New Role of Nuo, Ashgate Publisher, New York, 2015

Vijith Menon, Chinese Masks: History and Meaning, updated Feb 28, 2018.

Margaret E. Poggio, Wooden Tujia Masks for Nuo Opera in the Chinese Minority Nationalities” Art Gallery at the Shanghai Museum, flickr

CITS, China International, Nuo Opera – Behind the Masks.

historyplex, Chinese Masks, History and Meaning.




Additional information

Weight 5 lbs
Dimensions 14 × 10 × 6 in
Place of Origin



Antique, Qing Dynasty


18-19th Century

Materials and Technique


Dimensions (inches)

Ht: 10.25” W: 7.75” D: 3”

Dimensions (metric)

Ht: 26.035cm W: 19.685cm D: 7.62cm


Very good, patina and wear consistent with age and use

Item Number


Shipping Box Size