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483. Erlang Shen

China, Kangxi period (1662-1722) circa 1680-90
Height: 52,8 cm Width: 26,5 cm

Provenance: Accessioned to the Metropolitan of Art Museum, New York , 1960. (nr.61.200.31)
John D. Rockefeller Jr. Collection 1874 – 1960

A monumental enthroned Daoist god, dressed in a colourful yellow robe, decorated with a cloud motif in aubergine, green and white enamels on biscuit porcelain. Running down each side is a large green dragon, chasing a gold flaming pearl; the red cloud-collar, has a gold floral scrolling pattern. He holds a gold ruyi sceptre in his arms, above which is a pleated green waistband, with the gold character shou (longevity). The turquoise under-robe, which falls onto his shoes, is decorated with cranes and peaches. An unglazed crown sits on his black hair and he has a long black beard and side-burns. Between his slanting eyebrows, is a vertical third eye. The separate throne is decorated with green, aubergine and yellow enamels.

The longevity symbols on the figure – the crane, peaches and character shou – tell us this is a Daoist god. The third eye on his forehead, reveal him to be Erlang Shen, the god with a third truth-seeing eye. A noble and powerful Warrior God, he embodies justice and righteousness. He is said to have superhuman strength - able to cleave mountains with his axe - and the ability to transform.

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