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59.3 cm high

The seated God of Literature is depicted as a civil official in typical cap, long robe finely chased with a border of flames and clouds that cascades to the tip of his shoes and a double belt ornamented with simulated jade plaques. A dragon amidst flames is cast in relief on the figure’s torso. His bearded and mustachioed face has a serene expression and his left hand rests on one knee. The figure is supported on a faceted plinth with ruyi-shaped feet.

Wenchang, the God of Literature, was worshipped particularly during the Ming dynasty by members of the literati class who were seeking success in the civil service examinations. Depictions of Wenchang of the sixteenth to seventeenth centuries exist in various materials, including wood, porcelain, and bronze. The present figure is exceptional for its large size and quality of the casting, particularly demonstrated by the finely detailed borders of the robe, facial features and the dragon motif.


Sydney L. Moss, London

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