ANTIQUE CHINESE CARVED ROOT WOOD FIGURE OF LI TIEGUAI
Height: 24 inches / 61 cm
Stock number: RW3448/0119
A 19th century carved root wood figure of Li Tieguai.
Provenance: This was purchased at the estate sale of J. H. Barnett held in Tettenhall on the 11th & 12th December 1968, lot number 204, where it sold for £20. A copy of the catalogue with some prices marked in pen is included with this item.
Li Tieguai (lit. “Iron Crutch Li”) is a Chinese mythological figure and one of the Eight Immortals in the Taoist pantheon. He is sometimes described as irascible and ill-tempered, but also benevolent to the poor, sick and the needy, whose suffering he alleviates with special medicine from his gourd. He is often portrayed as an ugly old man with dirty face, scraggy beard, and messy hair held by a golden band. He walks with the aid of an iron crutch and often has a gourd slung over his shoulder or held in his hand. He often is depicted as a clown figure who descends to earth in the form of a beggar who uses his power to fight for the oppressed and needy.
The legend says that Li was born in the Yuan dynasty (1279–1368), and was originally named “Li Xuan”. However, in folklore, he is depicted as Laozi’s apprentice, hence he should have lived in the sixth century BC.