• Japanese & Korean Art  auction at Christies

    Sale 2296

    Japanese & Korean Art

    24 March 2010, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 634

    Anonymous (First Half 19th Century)

    Daoist Immortals on their Way to Xiwangmu's Banquet

    Price Realised  


    Anonymous (First Half 19th Century)
    Daoist Immortals on their Way to Xiwangmu's Banquet
    Eight-panel screen; ink, color and gold on silk
    64½ x 172in. (164 x 440cm.)

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    Xiwangmu (Korean: So Wang Mo) is the mythical Queen Mother of the West, chief of the Daoist fairies (female Immortals). Eternally young and beautiful, she lives in a remote fairyland as queen of Mount Kunlun, the sacred mountain of immortality. The peach trees in her orchard bear fruit every three-thousand years. Anyone fortunate enough to eat a Peach of Immortality will live forever.

    Xiwangmu's palace is spacious and elegant; its pavilions and nine-story towers are built of jasper and marble. Her palace gardens are vast and splendid, with sparkling streams and trees bearing precious jewels. Her five principal handmaidens are named for the five colors associated with the five directions of the compass. Cranes and azure-winged phoenixes are Xiwangmu's mounts and messengers. Her consort is Dongwanggong, Lord of the East. One of his duties is to keep a register of all the Daoist Immortals. Xiwangmu and Dongwanggong have nine sons and twenty-four daughters.

    When the peaches ripen in her garden, Xiwangmu gives a banquet for the Daoist Immortals. In panel 4 an attendant brings peaches in bowls. Fairy maidens in panel 6 prepare the banquet; peaches hang ripe on tree branches in the same panel. Xiwangmu and her consort are enthroned at the center, surrounded by attendants, and entertained by fairy dancers, musicians and dancing phoenixes. Panels 3 through 7 depict the entire, elevated banquet terrace. Beyond and below the terrace, Daoist Immortals arrive for the banquet.

    Immortals descending from the distant heavens at the upper right include Shoulao (Shouxing), the God of Longevity, riding a flying crane at the top of the first panel. The Buddha and guardians of the four quarters arrive at the top of the second panel. Preceding the Buddha are the bodhisattvas Samantabhadra and Manjushri in the guise of celestial maidens mounted on an elephant and lion respectively. It is appropriate that Laozi, the founder of Daoism, enters in an ox-drawn cart at the lower right corner of the first panel. Immortals walking on water in the second panel include Cao Guoqiu, in official court dress holding castanets, together with Han Xiangzi holding the flute that gives life. Qingao rides a carp. The immortal Liu Haichan walks with his three-legged toad. He Xian'gu, the only female in the core group known as the Eight Immortals, is shown with a basket of lotus and the musical instrument known as the sheng at the bottom of the fifth panel. An attendant with a basket of magical mushrooms precedes her.

    Pre-Lot Text


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