Boulder with Daoist Paradise, Qing dynasty (1644–1911), 18th century
Jade; H. 10 9/16 in. (26.8 cm), W. 17 15/16 in. (45.6 cm), D. 5 5/16 in. (13.5 cm)
Gift of Hebert R. Bishop, 1902 (02.18.684)
This impressive jade sculpture represents a Daoist paradise where immortals, cranes, and deer move through a mountainous landscape punctuated by pines, a waterfall, and a pavilion that stands beside a peach tree laden with fruit. Lower down the slope, a servant offers a platter of these "peaches of immortality" to two bearded figures. The otherworldly atmosphere is further enhanced by the meandering clouds that encircle the crest of the mountain. Jade, which is sonorous when struck but is harder than steel, has long been associated with moral virtue and immortality. The theme of reclusion within misty, fantastic realms appears in youxian (Wandering in Transcendence) poetry of the Six Dynasties period (220–589), and was a very popular painting subject beginning in the Tang dynasty (618–906).