Antique Temple Panel Chinese Red Gilt Wood Carving
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This Chinese panel was made to hang in a Buddhist temple. Hand carved from a lightweight wood, it was lacquered in iron red and then gilded. The openwork scene, set against the battlements of an ancient castle, features a nobleman dressed in elaborate ceremonial armor like that worn by the the Emperor Qianlong in the late 1700's. He sits astride his horse, with a subject kneeling in front of him, paying obeisance, while another man is holding his shield. Three others are gathered around, one of them holding a musical instrument that appears to be a pipa, a Chinese four stringed lute. The upper reaches of the panel are decorated with peony blossoms.
At the lower right corner, partially worn, is carved a character called "wàn" in China ( 卍 ). It's the original swastika, an auspicious Buddhist mystic symbol used on temple ornaments such as this plaque, as well as often carved over Buddha's heart and on the soles of his feet. There are no other markings or signatures. We estimate that this panel was made in the late 1800's.
This plaque measures 6 1/2 inches wide, 9 1/2 inches tall and about 2 inches high, with a weight of 1 pound, 2 ounces. The panel was covered with dirt and dust when we purchased it and then painstakingly cleaned it. The gleaming gold leaf was revealed, somewhat muted and worn by the years but still beautiful. The 3/4 inch thick recessed edges of the panel are lacquered black to form a frame for the carving. The red lacquer base coat shows clearly on the reverse side. There is some damage, most notably that the leg of the horse in the foreground has been broken off. There is a narrow crack at the very top left and one of the two peaks is missing on the cap of the man standing under the arched opening. All of this is shown in our photographs. There is a small metal ring at the top for hanging but it's easily propped on an easel or shelf as well. It displays beautifully alone or in a grouping with other art objects.
>>>The pair of blanc de chine statues of Chinese peasants shown in our photos is available here: