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Statuette of a Priest, 19th century

China: K'ang-hsi, 1800-1899
18-1/8 x 7-1/2 in. (46.0 x 19.1 cm)
The Norton Simon Foundation
© The Norton Simon Foundation

Not on View

The popularity of all things Chinese and “Oriental” among European collectors, which extended well into the nineteenth century, was met by an ever-increasing production of porcelain export ware for the Western market. Such goods ranged from luxury service ware to mass-produced vases. This figurine, remnants of hundreds of such porcelains from the Duveen Brothers Gallery, depicts a Daoist deity intended for the Western market. The figure wears a robe with the Chinese character “shou,” which means longevity and is associated with images of the God of Longevity Shou Lao. However, he has neither the elongated cranium, a symbol of wisdom, nor a peach in his hand, a symbol of longevity, both attributes of Shou Lao. As this object was intended for the Western market, its unorthodox representation of the god was not seen as problematic.

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