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A Bearer of Good Wishes: Fragment of a Taoist Wall Painting

ca. 1600-1644
Ming Dynasty (1368-1644 CE)
80 1/8 x 36 7/8 in. (203.5 x 93.7 cm)

Unknown, Chinese

Object Type: Painting
Medium and Support: Ink and natural mineral and plant pigments on a prepared clay wall
Credit Line: Gift of Anthony A. Bliss
Accession Number: 1986.117
Location: Currently on view
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Large religious scenes often decorated the walls of Chinese temples, monasteries, and shrines. This woman is from such a scene; a companion’s cut-off sleeve and hem can be seen at the lower left. The only other clue to her identity is her distinctively shaped staff. It is called a ju-i, which means “fulfilling one’s wishes.” Used by Chinese scholars as a lecturing pointer in the 4th-6th centuries, the ju-i was said in one humorous ancient commentary to have taken its shape from back-scratchers and its name from the satisfaction of relieving the itch! By the time of this painting, however, the staff had become purely symbolic, representing longevity and well-wishing.

[Excerpt from gallery label text, 1999]

Lizzie (known as Lillie) P. Bliss (1864-1931), New York; to her sister-in-law, Zaidee Cobb Bliss, New York, at her death; to her son, Anthony A. Bliss (1913-1991), New York; his gift to the Gallery in 1986

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