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.
Abby Aldrich Rockefeller , New York (until 1942; donated to MMA)
New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "The Douglas Dillon Legacy: Chinese Painting for the Metropolitan Museum," March 12, 2004–August 8, 2004.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Chinese Painting, Masterpieces from the Permanent Collection," August 28, 2004–February 20, 2005.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Art of the Brush: Chinese Painting and Calligraphy," March 12, 2005–August 14, 2005.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Secular and Sacred: Scholars, Deities, and Immortals in Chinese Art," September 10, 2005–January 8, 2006.

New York. The Metropolitan Museum of Art. "Brush and Ink: The Chinese Art of Writing," September 2, 2006–January 21, 2007.

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