Antique Song Tile of Immortal with Firecracker, China (5515LEM)


H: 7”  W: 5”  D: 2.75” | FREE SHIPPING

This thin Song earthenware tile which was probably made for a wealthy person, depicts the legendary scholar, poet and alchemist Taoist deity Lu Dongbin, one of the Eight Immortals, who sought to discover the elixir of immortality and used charms still used in Chinese homes to prevent illness and ward off evil. He and his fly whisk are auspicious symbols of longevity and a wish for immortality. Firecrackers have been used for centuries for holiday celebrations, to scare away evil spirits and bring happiness and prosperity. Originally covered in a slip and painted in polychrome colors, much paint is lost except for traces of yellow, green, grey and brown. With an appropriate frame would be a terrific wall piece.


During the Song Dynasty earthenware unglazed brick tiles made using a mould were produced to decorate the doors and walls of the many government and private buildings built during this affluent period as well as the doors and inner chamber walls of tombs for the rich starting in the Han dynasty. Used as funerary decorations to wish the deceased happiness and comfort in their afterlife, these Song Brick Tiles are also examples of mingqi. This thin terracotta funerary tile was probably made for a wealthy person and presents two images. The figure on the right is the legendary scholar, poet, and Immortal Lu Tung Ping who lived during the Tang Dynasty. A Taoist deity and master of alchemy he pursued the elixir of life to deliver immortality and was chosen to become one of the Taoist Eight Immortals. Usually depicted as a scholar, a depiction of him on a funerary tile is most appropriate, as his image and the object he carries, a flywhisk, are both symbols of long life and a wish for immortality. He is accompanied by a firecracker, an object used for centuries to scare away evil spirits with their loud sound and to elicit happiness and prosperity, thus combining the two images is a strong wish for happiness and prosperity in the next world free from evil spirits. Firecrackers were traditionally used to celebrate the Chinese New Year to usher in wishes for a safe and prosperous year and also to provide enrichment for holiday celebrations, this would be an additional symbolic advantage in a funerary setting: to placate and provide pleasure to the spirit of the deceased. During the Song dynasty, foreign artistic influences crept even into tile decorations, as Chinese wished to be be current with all artistic and overseas trends. This piece was originally covered in a white slip and fully painted, although most paint is lost except the green on the firecracker and yellow, grey, and brown on Lu Dongbin.  As with most ancient funerary tiles, the tile is repaired and restored: three corners are broken and re-glued, there are small chips upper right corner and back lower right, and aged patina with expected paint losses attests to its age and burial in a tomb. Nonetheless, the piece is in good condition for this type of object. This is part of the VA antique-Chinese-Ceramics-and-Pottery Collection and the Spiritual-and-Inspirational Collection of Deities-and-Legends.

Additional information

Dimensions 12 × 9 × 6 in
Place of Origin



Ancient, Song Dynasty

Materials and Technique


Dimensions (inches)

Ht: 7” W: 5” D: 2.75”

Dimensions (metric)

Ht: 17.78cm W: 12.7cm D: 7.62cm


Good condition with repairs, see description

Reference Number


Shipping Box Size


6” to 11.9”