After the fall of the T’ang Dynasty, a period
of unrest and war ensued, finally ending with the
establishment of the Song Dynasty. The Song era
was considered a time of consolidation for
Chinese culture. Traditional text were
reanalyzed and reinterpreted, bringing forth a
revival of Confucianism peppered with new ideas.
Once again, civil scholars became more
influential than their military counterparts. This
was an era of peace, where technology and
innovation flourished. Trade now focused on the
seas, since the Silk Road had since been cut off.
The Song viewed themselves as the culmination
of two thousand years of Chinese culture.
However, splinters began to emerge among the
various ethnic groups that had been unified
under the T’ang. As these ethnic rivalries began
to grow, the government became fractured as
officials began to oppose each other, allowing
the Mongols from the north to invade and
The Taoist immortal has long been a favorite
Chinese statuary art. These
legendary beings are said to have lived at various
times and attained
immortality through their studies of Nature’s
Their special powers include the ability
to become invisible, raising the
dead, changing tangible objects into gold, and
transforming their appearance. Shown standing
on a rectangular base, this figure wears a
long crossover robe belted above the waist, high
boots, and a squarish cap.
The draping folds of the robe are
exposed as the figure raises his arms,
assuming a lively gesture that captures the
movement of a walking figure.
The position of the arms and evidence
of holes in the hands implies the
figure could have held a walking stick or
emblematic object. The figure’s jovial expression is
conveyed through the
well-modeled eyes, cheekbones, nose and beard
that appears to sway with the
sound of laughter.