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Art/ Collection/ Art Object

Shoulao, the God of Longevity, with Children

Qing dynasty (1644–1911)
18th–19th century
H. 6 1/4 in. (15.9 cm)
Credit Line:
Gift of Ellen Barker, 1942
Accession Number:
Not on view
Bamboo, a relatively humble material, is popular as both a theme in painting and a material for decorative arts. Its hollow stalk symbolizes humility and an unprejudiced mind, and its innate resilience reflects the ability to maintain one's principles in the face of adversity.

Used to make brush pots and other implements for the scholar's table, bamboo was also carved into charming sculptures that were given as gifts or used for display. Shoulao is one of the three gods of good fortune in China; he symbolizes longevity, while his counterparts are associated with good fortune and happiness.
Ellen Barker , New York (until 1942; donated to MMA)
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Extravagant Display: Chinese Art in the Eighteenth and Nineteenth Centuries," December 14, 2010–May 1, 2011.

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