The Chinese lung (龙 ) or dragon has been a mythological creature in Chinese culture since the 5th millennium BCE. Dragons symbolize benevolence, prosperity, good fortune, blessings, longevity and the renewal of life. They live in the watery depths in the autumn and ascend to the sky in spring to become the rain-bringing dragon producing bountiful moisture in control of rain, rivers, lakes, and seas. It is a divine creature bringing abundance, prosperity, and good fortune, and, unlike Western dragons, are considered beautiful, friendly, and lucky. The dragon is the ultimate symbol of the forces of Nature considered to be the greatest divine force on earth. Dragons unify heaven and earth as they live in the mountains or the sea, quench their thirst in the sea and fly to the sky. With auspicious powers including control over water, rain, floods, and the fertility of crops, they are the symbol the emperor and imperial strength with their five claws. Its placement on the emperor’s dragon robes against clouds symbolizes the ruler’s imperial and heavenly authority and his ability to provide for irrigation and agriculture, essential to the empire’s strength and stability. Two of the most powerful of the four celestial animals are the dragon who is “yang” and the phoenix who “yin”, who together create the yin-yang balance to create matrimonial bliss. A dragon paired with the phoenix is a metaphor for people of high virtue, talent and status. Dragon. pairs are often depicted in carvings, furniture and on textiles chasing a flaming pearl thought to represent wisdom, energy, power and the moon. As a display of high status, the arms of chairs or thrones are ended with dragons or open-mouthed dragons holding pearls. The dragon’s popularity is so immense it is used ubiquitously as an important decorative and symbolic motif bringing good fortune to all. Matsu as Empress of Heaven is often shown seated in a dragon throne.

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  • Antique Mazu, Empress of Heaven, China


    This Mazu is portrayed as the imperially sanctioned “Empress of Heaven” seated on a dragon throne, hands clasped symbolically holding a hu. She wears elegant robes, an official’s girdle and a flat-topped imperial headdress, dragon designs on her robes and chair.The remaining polychrome reflects the original red, green, and blue laced with raised gilt highlights, now darkened by years of incense and candle smoke. Her characteristically small feet rest on a pair of gilt fu lions. Meant to be seen from all sides it is decorated on front and back and is in excellent condition although the front of her hat was broken and reattached and it has expected minor scratches and losses.

  • Antique Polychrome Mazu “Holy Mother in Heaven,” China


    Seated imperiously on a horseshoe chair this majestic and imposing Matsu was carved from a single piece of dense wood, legs resting on a turquoise embossed pedestal set on a base with carved gilt characters of her title “Holy Mother in Heaven.” Her elaborate gilt robe has a white collar, a red girdle at the waist flowing to the tips of her shoes and is meticulously detailed using a blend of sawdust and gesso to form raised textured motifs that include clouds, a dragon framed by her girdle, and a flying dragon on each shoulder. She wears a red imperial flat headdress. Layers of polychrome and gold leaf are highlighted with lacquer creating an effect reminiscent of gilded bronze sculpture with the large amounts of gold associated with enlightenment. This piece shows the decorative influence of Taoism on Qing carvings of this era. The polychrome on her face and hands has been removed revealing a white stucco undercoating.This wonderful carving is in very good condition with all its original gilt and polychrome, expected surface cracks, paint and gilt losses, and chips.

  • Antique Taoist God of Literature on a Dragon, China


    This tall and thin image from South China is Wen Chan, the Taoist God 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 household 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.




  • Antique/Vintage Hanging Sweetmeat Confection Mold, China


    This unique and finely detailed hardwood sweetmeat confection mold was probably used to make mooncakes for the Chinese Autumn Moon Festival.  The decorations on the mold are filled with propitious symbols, and the product it creates – a single oversized pastry moon cake – brings blessings to those fortunate enough to eat it. The many auspicious objects include a four-clawed dragon at the top, a carp at the bottom, two ducks a large one on the right and a small one in the lower middle, a bird on the lower left, and plants native to a water environment. This would be a great accessory or gift (especially for weddings) to spice up any kitchen. It is in excellent condition and has a hole on the top to hang on a wall.

  • Han Dynasty Bronze Dragon Belt Hook


    This Han bronze belt hook is fashioned as a dragon with intense eyes. A button-like extension on its underside affixes to a belt hole, and the hook is positioned horizontally to attach to clothing. Belt hooks were used in life and then buried with the diseased to accompany him on his journey to the afterlife.  In very good condition, it has not been cleaned and has normal pitting and surface losses due to its two millennia-old burial in a humid tomb that has heavily oxidized over the years and, therefore, has beautiful verdigris deposits.

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