Daoist Immortal, probably Laozi (老子)
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.