Polychrome Seated Ancestor Figure

c. 1900
$488 USD
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W: 7.5" D: 7.0" H: 15.5"
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An integral part of traditional Chinese home life, ancestor worship before a domestic altar often featured painted ancestral portraits or tabletop ancestor figures. This late 19th-century seated ancestor figure was carefully hand-carved and painted to bear the likeness of one of its original owner's important forebears. The figure depicts a female ancestor dressed in a long Manchu-style robe, painted to resemble red and gold silks.

Yellow linework imitating silk brocade decorates her robe with a border of trailing vines and round medallions with the Fu character for good fortune. Minor details add charming realism to the simple form, from the draped folds of her skirt to her expressive, twinkling smile. The small compartment on her back was used to hold consecration materials, such as a small paper scroll bearing a hand-written prayer.

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