Small Daoist stele depicting Laojun in a niche

A miniature stele with relief carving on the front and engraved inscription on the back. The front depicts a rectangular niche beneath an elaborate canopy or curtain. The canopy has side streamers that consist of tassels and decorations that are presumably jade ornaments. Inside the niche, a seated figure leaning on an armrest is posed on a high pedestal, at the foot of which two lions appear flanking an incense burner. The figure–presumably the Daoist deity, Laojun, is capped, bearded, and with raised right hand holding a zhuwei. He has a double nimbus. Two standing attendants who hold hu tablets are on either side.

Historical period(s)
Northern Zhou dynasty, 567
Medium
Stone
Dimensions
H x W x D (overall): 16.8 x 12.2 x 6.1 cm (6 5/8 x 4 13/16 x 2 3/8 in)
Geography
China
Credit Line
Acquired under the guidance of the Carl Whiting Bishop expedition
Collection
Freer Study Collection
Accession Number
FSC-S-48
On View Location
Currently not on view
Classification(s)
Sculpture, Stone
Type

Stele

Keywords
Carl Whiting Bishop collection, China, Daoism, halo, incense, Laojun, lion, Northern Zhou dynasty (557 - 581)
Provenance
Provenance information is currently unavailable
Description

A miniature stele with relief carving on the front and engraved inscription on the back. The front depicts a rectangular niche beneath an elaborate canopy or curtain. The canopy has side streamers that consist of tassels and decorations that are presumably jade ornaments. Inside the niche, a seated figure leaning on an armrest is posed on a high pedestal, at the foot of which two lions appear flanking an incense burner. The figure--presumably the Daoist deity, Laojun, is capped, bearded, and with raised right hand holding a zhuwei. He has a double nimbus. Two standing attendants who hold hu tablets are on either side.

Inscription(s)

Inscription: "In the nineteenth day of the sixth moon of the second year of Tianhe (567), daomin Zhi Yuanzun made a Laojun image, for the benefit of his late parents."

Published References
  • Li Song. A History of Chinese Daoist Art. China. .
  • Liu Yang. Origins of Daoist Iconography. vol. 31 Washington and Ann Arbor. p. 36, fig. 7.
Collection Area(s)
Chinese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
SI Usage Statement

Usage Conditions Apply

There are restrictions for re-using this image. For more information, visit the Smithsonian's Terms of Use page.

The information presented on this website may be revised and updated at any time as ongoing research progresses or as otherwise warranted. Pending any such revisions and updates, information on this site may be incomplete or inaccurate or may contain typographical errors. Neither the Smithsonian nor its regents, officers, employees, or agents make any representations about the accuracy, reliability, completeness, or timeliness of the information on the site. Use this site and the information provided on it subject to your own judgment. The Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery welcome information that would augment or clarify the ownership history of objects in their collections.