Immortals on waves

The figures in this painting are two of the Eight Immortals of Chinese mythology crossing the sea to visit the Queen Mother of the West. They both carry attributes associated with them: Li Tieguai, or ‘Iron Crutch Li’, kneels down with his gourd; his other attribute, the crutch which gives him his name is not seen in this image. Two bats, symbols of good fortune, fly amongst the magic vapour emitting from his gourd. The other figure is Lan Caihe, seen here in her female guise, standing on a lotus leaf with her flower basket and another lotus leaf in her hands. In the basket are a peony, symbolic of riches and honours, a red lingzhi magic fungus and some peaches, both of which represent long life. It is inscribed with a dedicatory inscription to a friend.


Further reading

Vainker, Shelagh, Chinese Paintings in the Ashmolean Museum, Oxford (Oxford: Ashmolean Museum, 2000), no. 1.4 on p. 198, illus. p. 199 fig. 1.4

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