The robe, ruyi-toed shoes, dragon design and lock pendant may be linked to a particular style of court dress that evolved from the Song dynasty through the Ming period, and was also worn by high-ranking figures in the Daoist pantheon.
Daoism flourished in the Ming dynasty under the Jiajing and Wanli Emperors, who were fervent supporters of Daoist practices promising the attainment of immortality. During the sixteenth and early seventeenth centuries, numerous bronze figures of Daoist deities were cast under imperial patronage or commissioned by wealthy families.
A closely related figure was sold in our London rooms, 24th July 1973, lot 154; and one wearing a slightly different hat and holding a tablet, was sold in these rooms, 8th October 2006, lot 1158. See also a smaller example sold in our New York rooms, 28th February 1980, lot 5; one sold in our London rooms, 30th October 1987, lot 416; another sold at Christie’s London, 12th June 1989, lot 96; and one inscribed with a cyclical date corresponding to 1567, sold in our London rooms, 16th November 1971, lot 23.
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