Daoist Deity, probably Heavenly Marshal Zhao (Zhao Gong Ming)
Qiao Bin (Chinese, active 1481–1507)
Ming dynasty (1368–1644)
H. 23 3/4 in. (60.3 cm); W. 15 in. (38.1 cm); D. 8 3/8 in. (21.3 cm)
Bequest of Harrison Cady, 1970
Not on view
This figure of a Daoist deity is embellished with low-fired lead glazes in yellow, green, black, and white that are typical for Ming-dynasty (1368–1644) Daoist and Buddhist ceramic sculptures. The figure probably represents the Heavenly Marshal Zhao (Zhao Gong Ming), a popular local god of wealth who was absorbed into the Daoist pantheon. An inscription on the back that dates the piece to 1482 states that the commissioner Li Daoming, Daoist devotee of the Quanzhen sect, ordered a set of "Guan and Zhao" figures, which suggests that this sculpture was one of a pair.
Inscription: Inscribed, dated and signed (on back of the base):
Li Daoming, a Daoist devotee of the Quanzhen set, of the [Daoist temple] Huoshitang on Tiantangshan, vowed to donate money to have [the following] made:
a set of Sanguan [Three Officials]* figures, a set of "Guan and Zhao"** figures, and a Quanzhen deity [for] this temple. The seventeenth year of the Chenghua reign period (1481) of the Great Ming. [Cui Tian? Cui Wang? (pobably donors)]
[Made by] Qiao Bin, a daizhao*** residing in his hometown, of Yangcheng county, Zezhou district, Shanxi province, together with his son, Qiao Bin.
*The Official of Heaven, the Official of Earth, and the Official of Water
**The heroes of the Three Kingdoms: Liu Bei, Zhang Fei, and Zhao Yun, under Guan Yu, known as the God of War.
***daizhao ("Awaiting an edict), a title originally conferred to the qualified officials awaiting imperial edicts for government service. After the Song dynasty, it had become customary to give such an honorary title to professional painters, artisans and high-skilled workers.