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Oreintal China - Buddhist Divinities And Han Chung-Le

( Originally Published 1911 )

Images in porcelain of Buddhist divinities are exceedingly rare. Gautama Buddha may he found in pictures surrounded by sixteen Arhats and four guardians of the world. These Arhats are five hundred in number, and the sixteen occupy a rank superior to the others, under the name of Sthaviras, or " the seniors." Unfortunately, the details of their lives are little known. In Mr. Salting's Collection there are a number of Arhats, which should be seen.

A pair of seated figures of Buddhistic deities. The robe of one has an aubergine skirt, and the other bright green ; the body is ornamented with sacred jewels in biscuit, as are the head, hands, and feet ; one has the Buddhistic crown and coronet in green and yellow, whilst the other has only a crown. Supported on pedestals fashioned as tree trunks, on which there is a vase in aubergine and a bird in green and white. In the centre of each panel of the base, which is of bright green enamel, are Kylin heads, yellow in one instance and aubergine in the other. These are early Ming.

In the middle is a figure of Han Chung-le, the first and greatest of the Taoist immortals, who is supposed to have found the Elixir of Life, and lived to attain the great age of 127 years. The robe is of brilliant green enamel, decorated with flying storks and clouds in aubergine, green, yellow, white, and black; the head and hands are in biscuit, the flowing beard is in black, as is also the fan with which he revived the souls of the dead. Ming of a later type.

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