Daoist Immortal Laozi
(active 15th century)
Ming dynasty (1368–1644)
Gilt brass; lost-wax cast
H. 7 1/2 in. (19 cm); W. 4 3/4 in. (12 cm); D. 2 3/4 in. (7 cm)
Purchase, Friends of Asian Art Gifts, 1997
Not on view
The full beard helps to identify this figure as Laozi (also known as the Celestial Worthy of the Way and Its Virtue), the author of the seminal Daoist text the Daodejing (The Way and Its Power). Daoism, a term used to define an amalgamation of beliefs and practices that includes metaphysical and philosophical speculations as well as more mundane attempts to achieve immortality, can be traced to the sixth century B.C. and the writings of the quasi-historical Laozi.