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Another Taoist God

( Originally Published 1911 )

A figure of Piu-hwo carrying his fly-whisk, with which he was sup-posed to have the power to revive the dead. He is represented in a flowing robe of a brilliant brownish-black enamel. The head, fly-whisk, hand, feet, and base in unglazed biscuit ; the features and expression remarkably well portrayed.

The Taoist divinities are the chief objects of attention amongst Chinese figure-makers, who in beautiful bronze and no less beautiful porcelain commemorated the traditions of past ages. Kwan-Yin, Amitabha, or Amida, and some others are Buddhists both in China and Japan, but the great Taoist divinities, headed by Lao-Tseu, the founder of Taoism, seem to be specially honoured by the potters. The deities of heaven and earth, the sidereal gods of the constellations, the secondary divinities, such as Fo, Lo, and Cho, the three gods of happiness, and the gods of fortune and letters are all to be found in porcelain. The eight immortals belong to the inferior rank of Chens or Esprits. They are described in a special chapter elsewhere, still, we must remark that in blue and coloured decoration on vases, dishes, &c., they are constantly met with, so that it is well to be familiar with their appearance and with their symbols. Han Chung-le, the president of the pachens, and Tsaou Kwo-kiu carry fly-whisks beside their proper symbols, and so do the others occasionally.

There still remain the divinities of the earth, of whom Si-Wang-Mu was the chief. The gods of the seasons, the cities, the mountains, and the sea, all had their functions duly recognised. One word of advice is here necessary. The old Ming figures are valuable, and forgeries are numerous. So are the early Kang-he figures such as this.

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