30. M5346


Large Chinese high fired pottery seated figure of Guandi, in full armour with right foot raised and hand clenched while his left hand rests on his thigh, with the front of his left boot raised, the armour tied with straps and linked by mythical animal masks above his belt, the shoulders with similar masks, his head turned wearing a helmet with wings surmounted by a stylised flame, seated on a lion skin draped over a naturalistic rockwork base, painted in blue, turquoise, yellow and white glazes on the biscuit body, the unglazed face and hands with traces of original pigment and his belt with traces of original gilt.

17 ¾ inches, 45.2 cm high.

Early Kangxi, 17th century.

Wood stand.

Provenance & Additional Information

  • From an important French private collection formed between 1924 and 1941.
  • Purchased from Leon Wannieck, 1 Rue George, Paris, 18th March 1929.
  • Bearing label of Pierre Saqué, 12 Avenue George V, Paris.
  • A companion figure with identical armour is in the Victoria and Albert Museum collection number 99-1935 and was purchased with Art Fund support, the Vallentin Bequest, Sir Percival David and the Universities China Committee.
  • Another Kangxi famille verte figure of Guandi is illustrated by Anthony du Boulay in The Taft Museum, Its History and Collections, vol II, p. 615 where the author notes, “Guandi (or Emperor Guan) is the name given to the Daoist god of war and justice, created around 1600 from the historical figure Guan Yu, a general of the Minor Han (Shuhan) dynasty established in Sichuan during the Three Kingdoms (A.D. 220 – 65). Guan Yu, the hero of the epic tale Sanguozhi Yanyi, (The Romance of the Three Kingdoms), made a pact with Liu Bei a member of Han Dynasty Royal family, and Chang Fei, a butcher, to reunite their country around A.D. 200”. In 1614 the Wanli Emperor bestowed on Guan Yu the title “Holy Emperor Guan the great god who subdues demons in the three worlds and whose awe spreads far and moves heaven”. During the early Qing dynasty in 1644 the Shunzhi Emperor also gave Guan Yu another elaborate title. It therefore seems logical that from the late Wanli period through the Kangxi period that statues of Guandi in both gilt bronze and ceramic became very popular. Another similar Kangxi famille verte biscuit figure, is illustrated by Gorer, in, Collection of Old Chinese Porcelains, formed by George R. Davies, Esq., no. 222, plate XIII.


Hat finial restored, hat wing tips restored, tassel at end of hat on shoulder tip restored, and elbow sleeve tip restored.