Tray with Daoist figures


Not on view

The eight figures assembled on the riverbank represent the Eight Immortals, a group of Daoist deities who originated from the legends of the Tang dynasty (618–907). They can each be identified by their personal attributes, including the flute, staff, sword, flower, and gourd. Here, they await the arrival of Shoulao, God of Longevity, who is flying above the waves on the back of a crane. Daoism gained increasing popularity in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries, and so did its imagery. This exquisitely decorated tray is a remarkable example.

Tray with Daoist figures, Black lacquer with mother-of-pearl inlay; basketry sides, China

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