A Pair of Three-legged Toads

Artist: Formerly attributed to Li Di (active late 12th-early 13th century)
Historical period(s)
Ming dynasty, 1368-1644
Ink and color on silk
H x W: 21.1 x 20.1 cm (8 5/16 x 7 15/16 in)
Credit Line
Gift of Charles Lang Freer
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view
Album, Painting

Album leaf

China, Daoism, Ming dynasty (1368 - 1644), toad

To 1916
Wang Jiantang, Shanghai to 1916 [1]

From 1916 to 1919
Charles Lang Freer (1854-1919), purchased from Wang Jiantang in 1916 [2]

From 1920
The Freer Gallery of Art, gift of Charles Lang Freer in 1920 [3]


[1] See Original Album List, S.I. 36A, pg. 50, Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives. This object exhibits seals, colophons, or inscriptions that could provide additional information regarding the object’s history. See Curatorial Remarks in the object record for further details. See especially, Curatorial Remark 4, Ma Su, 1917, in the object record, which states: "The seal on the left upper corner of the picture is that of the Ch'ien-lung Imperial Galleries."

[2] See note 1.

[3] The original deed of Charles Lang Freer's gift was signed in 1906. The collection was received in 1920 upon the completion of the Freer Gallery.

Previous Owner(s)

Wang Jiantang (C.L. Freer source)
Charles Lang Freer 1854 - 1919


The magic toad, which represents the “essence” (zhenjing) in internal elixir (neidan) practices, was believed to appear whenever Daoist immortal Liu swung a string of coins. The coins signify Liu’s enlightenment by an immortal who stacked ten eggs on one coin by way of alluding to the precariousness of human existence. In the late Qing period (1644– 1911), a three-legged toad was also used to pray for beneficial rain.

Collection Area(s)
Chinese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
Rights Statement

Copyright with museum

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