A gilt-bronze figure of an attendant

明   鎏金銅使者立像

The figure of a youthful attendant is well cast, standing with feet slightly apart on a lotus petal base. He wears a short jacket over a knee-length robe, tied with a bow in front. The hem of the robe flutters as if in a breeze. Both collar and hem are finely incised with a zigzag pattern, while the side panels are incised with a floral pattern on a punched ground. His hands are folded within his sleeves, held up in front and supporting a ruyi sceptre, as if in the act of proffering it. His face has clearly cast features, beneath a scholar’s headdress. The figure and base are separately constructed, and both are applied overall with rich gilding.

No closely comparable figure appears to have been published.  

The ruyi sceptre (literally, “as you wish” sceptre) has been an 
important symbolic object in Chinese art at least since the Han dynasty but its origins are much debated. Its primary function is as a conferrer of authority, particularly imperial authority, but it was quickly assimilated also into the icongraphy of Buddhism.  By the Ming dynasty the tradition of giving ruyi sceptres as symbols of good fortune was already established and it may be that this is what is represented in the present figure.  Alternatively the figure can be read as a Buddhist acolyte.

Dimensions: Height: 13 cm, 5 ⅛ inches

Date: Ming dynasty (1368-1644)

Stock No. 1945

Price: On Request