A large porcelain figure of the Daoist immortal Wei Tchang with stand
Kangxi period, 17th – 18th century, China
Height: 55cm Width: 25cm
高： 55釐米 寬： 25釐米
A large biscuit porcelain figure of the Daoist God of wisdom, Wei Tchang, in famille verte palette. Wei Tchang possesses a truth-seeing eye in the centre of his forehead. The third eye of this deity represents his ability to see more than any other person or god, and his ability to look into a man’s soul, as well as the past, present, and future. A similar Daoist deity with a third truth-seeing eye, Erlang Shen, appears in the Ming period classical text Journey to the West as the Jade Emperor’s brother. This porcelain figure is wearing the ‘pale goose-yellow’ robes that Erlang Shen is described to wear in Journey to the West. He is known as a filial deity in China, as he is said to have entered the Chinese underworld to save his mother, and he punishes unfilial children by striking them with lightning.
This figure has a white porcelain face and scrollwork hat, and black glazed hair and eyes. His facial features are delicately carved in high relief. On the shoulders of its robe there are red foliate-shaped panels with a design of scrolling vines and chrysanthemums painted in gilt. On the back of his shoulders this design continues in white with green vines and purple chrysanthemums. His robe is pale yellow with purple edges, and has a green, red, and purple design of scrolling clouds. On the sides of the robe there are two dragons holding flaming pearls painted in gilt and red. The belt of his apron is green with a black band below, a yellow flower design, and a Shou character painted in gilt with a red oval background. The bottom of the apron sash has a flower and ruyi scrollwork design with a geometric border in red and gilt, with two black sashes with green flower design either side. The lower section of his apron is pale green, with a darker green geometric border. It has a design of two cranes, and two red peaches – both these motifs are symbols of longevity. He is holding a ruyi sceptre with a lingzhi fungus head painted in gilt. His black shoes are visible beneath his robe. On his back, his pale-yellow robe green and purple cloud design continues. The lower half of the back is moulded with the white seat with woodgrain design that he is seated on. There is a circular hole in the back created as part of the firing process.
This Daoist figure still has its original throne- shaped stand, which is rare. The stand is biscuit porcelain painted in famille verte designs. The back of the stand is left white, and the two side panels of the lower section of the throne have a design of flowering vines with a yellow and grey flower. The front panel of the lower section is decorated with a geometric chrysanthemum design and there are ruyi scrollwork designs in each corner. There is an openwork club shape in the center of the lower front panel. The back inner panel of the throne is decorated with a kylin with a green body, yellow head, and purple fur on a landscape background. The two panels either side have a design of reeds and flower buds. The two side panels have a design of purple flowers with leaves. The edges of the throne panels have a foliate design.
The World’s Great Collections – Oriental Ceramics. Vol. 11. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York. Kodansha International Ltd.
Illustrated: ‘Chats on Oriental China’ by J F Blacker London 1919, figure 76.