Daoist Immortal Laozi

Artist: Chen Yanqing (active 15th century)

Period: Ming dynasty (1368–1644)

Date: dated 1438

Culture: China

Medium: Gilt brass; lost-wax cast

Dimensions: H. 7 1/2 in. (19 cm); W. 4 3/4 in. (12 cm); D. 2 3/4 in. (7 cm)

Classification: Sculpture

Credit Line: Purchase, Friends of Asian Art Gifts, 1997

Accession Number: 1997.139


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.