Tutelary Deity

A tutelary deity is a god or goddess who is a guardian or protector of a specific place, geographic site, lineage, occupation or a home and its inhabitants. Main Chinese Tutelary Deities are Tudi Gong (the local Earth Deity), Cheng Huang Gong (City God of individual cities) and Matsu (Protectress of the Seas).As guardians of individual homes and families, the Kitchen God and his wife fit into this category.

Showing 1–12 of 15 results

  • Antique Earth God Tudi Gong, China


    This vibrant and finely carved wood statue with much pigment and lacquer is the old good-natured Earth God Tudi Gong once found in most rural communities throughout China. He is a kind and benevolent god as seen by his good natured features, believed to live in and help residents of small villages, especially for issues relating to agriculture or wealth.   As an administrator he sits on a horseshoe chair wearing officials clothes and carries a tael, a gold bar that symbolizes a wish for wealth. With his sweet and unpretentious demeanor, he looks like someone you just like to hang out with. Once in every village and most homes, these charming images have like all Taoist deity images become scarce.



  • Antique Heavenly Empress Mazu, Protector of the Sea, China


    This vibrant image represents the “Heavenly Empress” Mazu wearing a vibrant, red-tiered outer robe topped with a black scalloped collar bordered with gold carved in graceful folds. Mazu is often dressed in red so travelers at sea can easily spot her if they need assistance. Three ornamental flowers painted on her stomach might reflect the Popular Religion myth that when Mazu’s mother was pregnant, she prayed for a daughter as she already had six sons. In a dream Guanyin gave her a flower blossom to wear, and the next day Mazu was born. This piece is wonderfully carved and is in excellent condition with exception of a few lacquer losses on her face and dress. She originally sat on a detached throne that is now replaced by a lucite base.

  • Antique Home Altar Mazu, Protector of the Sea, China


    This home devotional image, finely carved in the front and back, represents Mazu, the most revered Taoist female deity in coastal towns throughout mainland China, Taiwan and Vietnam. She sits in a traditional Taoist deity pose with her hands held before her covered by a ritual cloth with a space to hold a now missing hu tablet seated on a plain armless high back chair. She is a provincial matronly figure, eyes cast down in serene calmness, in humble attire with characteristically small feet, a red sash down the front of her robe, and a modest hat with a flat phoenix. The piece was originally covered with gilt, red polychrome, and lacquer on front and back,  which has been dulled from incense and candle smoke.  It is in very good condition with expected losses and cracks and larger cracks in the rear.


  • Antique Imperial Mazu, Empress of Heaven, China


    This colorful large image represents Matsu as the Empress of Heaven in elaborate robes covering her front and back with gilt appliqué and rich and intense hues of red, blue, green and yellow applied on an original white background which allows those at sea in need of her assistance to see her. Raised curvilinear designs of strands made from incense ash highlight her robe that has two blue beads on the bottom of her sash and five inset mirrors – three across her chest and two inside flowers on her sleeves. A gilt headdress with raised threads inset with a mirror and topped by a phoenix sits on her intricate hair strands.  Originally on a chair or throne and made to be seen in the round, it now has a wood slat to stabilize it. Otherwise, this very powerful statue is in very good condition with normal scrapes and paint losses.


  • Antique Kitchen God and His Wife


    This pair of the Kitchen God and his wife are mirror-images on backless chairs with multi-sided pedestals wearing simplified officials robes. Both are finely carved, clasp hands at their chests covered in ritual cloth to symbolize holding a  hu tablet, and reflect reverence and solemnity for deities who hold the future of multiple generations in their hands. They  were covered in red, the color of fu, and lacquer which has darkened naturally over time and from exposure to candle and incense smoke. These images are in very good shape and were consecrated.

  • Antique Kitchen God and his Wife, China


    This Kitchen God and His Wife are near mirror images and carved with fine quality and lesser but sufficient details. They sit on backless chairs on a high plinth, with similar layered gold officials’ robes with black borders and red decorative sashes with faded painted designs and clasped hands covered in ritual cloth symbolizing holding a hu tablet, and well-carved, articulated, well presented and very different headdresses. Their faces are generalized with carved and painted features, with the reverence and solemnity associated with house gods whose future of families are in their hands.


  • Antique Kitchen God and His Wife, China


    This extremely fine quality pair of the Kitchen God and his Wife are carved on a single base which is somewhat unusual. Unlike our the other pairs, these figures closely resemble but do not mirror each other. The intricately detailed and different hats are those of very high officials as are their well carved and elaborate officials’ robes. His serene expressive face seems to have an uncharacteristic smile and is highlighted with facial hairs. Their hands are hidden under a curved ritual cloth and hold pointed hu tablets. These charming figures with a smooth warm patina are in excellent condition.



  • Antique Kitchen God and His Wife, China


    Finely detailed and carved from dense wood, this Kitchen God and his Wife are near mirror images of each other. Both sit on backless chairs on a high plinth, with layered gold officials’ robes with decorative sashes and hands clasped symbolically as if holding a hu tablet. Their different well-carved faces have arched brows, pendulous ears and hair under detailed, different and distinctive head wear. They are in excellent condition with most of the original red, black, and gold pigmentation and lacquer and have been consecrated.


  • 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 Mazu, Protector of the Sea, China


    This antique figurine presented a matronly version of Mazu, Empress of Heaven in a horseshoe chair, feet on a pedestal. Wearing gold earrings, hat topped with a phoenix and dressed in a scalloped cloud collar and layered robes with wide sleeves, she grasps her belt with her left hand, an officiial gesture. Carved from dense wood with well-articulated features,  remnants of the original red pigmentation remain and it is covered by lacquer naturally darkened from candle and incense smoke. It is in very good condition despite a crack on the base, a missing fingertip and expected scrapes and minor losses of pigments and lacquer due to age and use.

  • 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 Stone Earth God Tudi Gong, China


    This antique stone Tudi Gong statue was finely crafted by a local provincial artisan and reflects many traditional characteristics of this beloved lower status deity: a benevolent face, voluminous rotund belly, slouched shoulders, and holding taels to bestow wealth and fortune and maybe assurance to rural common folk. In his past he rested happily on an outdoor shrine, and would be very happy to continue doing so in a home garden to bring prosperity and an aura of past times to a new family.

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

End of content

End of content