This handsome Chinese clay figurine depicts an herbalist, a traditional healer in China, wearing his classic tall. black toque-style cap and white robe tied with a black obi. His hair is short and he wears a mustache, chin patch and curled goatee, all neatly trimmed. He is seated on a large rock of cobalt blue and white "marble" with his woven basket of herbs on the ground next to him, his right hand is curled on his crossed knees. His left hand is clutching a stem of flowering herbs while resting on his book of formulas. Behind him on the rock lays his hoe, used to cultivate his herb garden.
Ceramics like this one are called "mud ware," figurines originally designed over 1000 years ago to decorate bonsai landscapes called Pen'Jing. They were created by hand from clay mud, thus earning their name. In the intervening centuries, mud men (and rarely mud women) came to be used to decorate fish tanks and planters. While small ones are still used that way, larger ones like this one are usually tabletop décor, although it could certainly be used in a large planter.
The statue measures 8 3/4 inches tall, with the dry bottom 6 1/4 inches wide and 4 1/4 inches from front to back. The piece weighs 1 3/4 pounds and is in excellent condition, beautifully hand painted with fine details...lovely alone or in a collection.