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Oriental China - The Taoist Immortals

( Originally Published 1911 )

A large arbour or shrine in brilliant green and yellow enamels. In the various sections are the figures of the eight immortals, wearing green, yellow, and aubergine robes ; on the right-hand upper portion is a small figure of a dove in biscuit. At the base, rising from the waves, is a carp, and also a frog.

Although the Chinese potters had at their command an endless list of gods, goddesses, saints, and devils in their mythology, they appear to have loved to draw and to model the eight immortals, Kwan-Y in, Si-Wang-Mu, and other Taoist divinities, to the exclusion of all except a few Buddhist gods. This seems to be due to their intense desire for a long life as the highest good. Constant use is found for the character Show, which is written in a hundred different ways, as shown in the robes of Kwan-Vin and Si-Wang-Mu in the illustrations of those goddesses. Such pieces as those given here are rare, although these divinities and the eight immortals are very often depicted on pieces in blue and white, and on many specimens in coloured enamels. It is curious to notice how, when they are in the heavens, they are carried upon the clouds; when upon earth Han Chung-le and Han Seang-tse ride upon a fan; Tsaou Kwo-kiu on a log; Chang Ko-laou stands on a frog ; Lan Tsae-ho on her basket, and carries her symbol, the lotus ; Leu Tung-pin stands on his sword; Ho Seen-koo on a willow-branch, and Le Tee-kwae sits on his gourd. Ming.

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