• Christies auction house James Christie logo

    Sale 2027

    Fine Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art

    17 September 2008, New York, Rockefeller Plaza

  • Lot 218


    MING DYNASTY (1368-1644)

    Price Realised  

    MING DYNASTY (1368-1644)
    Cast as Liu Hai seated atop a massive three-legged toad with flames emerging from its mouth and extending the length of its body amidst raised lumps on its skin, the immortal dressed in robes tied at the waist and left open exposing his chest, with a large double gourd slung over his shoulders and an animated expression on his face as he raises both hands, a large cash held in the right, his left raised, the toad signed Deng Xing zao underneath the rear leg
    10 1/8 in. (25.7 cm.) long, box

    Contact Client Service
    • info@christies.com

    • New York +1 212 636 2000

    • London +44 (0)20 7839 9060

    • Hong Kong +852 2760 1766

    • Shanghai +86 21 6355 1766

    Liu Hai is the immortal associated with commercial success. He is nearly always portrayed with his three-legged toad and cash, and conveys a wish for prosperity. The three-legged toad itself has origins in the magical realm, representing the unattainable. It was only in later Chinese art that it was associated with Liu Hai.

    There are many versions of the story of Liu Hai and his toad companion, but the essential elements remain that as a reward for his friendship, the toad revealed the secret to eternal life. Holding the toad also allowed Liu Hai to travel anywhere in the world instantaneously.