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479. Zhenwu

Kangxi period (1662-1722) circa 1710-20
Height: 16,8 cm Width: 13,1 cm

Provenance: - Bernard Collection, Paris, 1951 - 2015
- Maison Jansen, Paris, 1951

An enamel on biscuit figure seated barefoot on a large tortoise and a snake, revealing him to be the Daoist deity Zhenwu. He is dressed in aubergine robes with a green scarf around his neck, his yellow armour just visible at his wrists and ankles. The gently smiling face, head and neck are unglazed. The tortoise, which has a yellow shell and green body, is turning to look up to at the god on his back. The coiling snake is unglazed.

Zhenwu, the Perfected Warrior, is an important Chinese deity. Historically, his force was represented as a snake with a tortoise. Over time he develops into the human form of a warrior, often accompanied by the two animals he morphed from. The northerly direction he symbolizes was particularly significant to the Chinese, as this border needed the most protection from foreign invaders such as the Mongols. Zhenwu had a huge cult following, particularly during the Ming era. His image was posted to doorways of houses for protection and shrines devoted to him were erected all over China.

This figure comes with the original 1951 invoice, from the renowned Maison Jansen in the Rue Royal, Paris.

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