Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Daoist Immortal, probably Laozi (老子)

Five Dynasties period (907–60)
10th century
High-leaded bronze
H. 9 1/2 in. (24.1 cm); W. 4 1/2 in. (11.4 cm)
Credit Line:
Gift of Abby Aldrich Rockefeller, 1942
Accession Number:
Not on view
This sculpture epitomizes the merging of religious and secular imagery in later Chinese Buddhist sculpture. With his shaven head and elongated earlobes, the figure resembles a luohan (one of the Indian disciples of the Buddha), but his refined facial features, dignified posture, long-sleeved robe, and pointed shoes—all attributes associated with Confucian scholar-officials—identify him unmistakably as a youthful monk.

The sculpture’s tendency toward abstraction and stylization—the contours of the head, body, and robes are conveyed through the buildup of simple, curved forms—recall thirteenth-century images, but a radiocarbon date suggests that the piece dates to between A.D. 1324 and 1617.
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