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Album, ink on paper
Sheet: 34.2 x 38.4 cm (13 7/16 x 15 1/8 in.); Mounted: 38.9 x 41.5 cm (15 5/16 x 16 5/16 in.)
John L. Severance Fund in honor of Dr. Ju-hsi Chou and Gift of various donors to the department of Asian Art (by exchange) 2004.1.1
A pot of purple crepe myrtle blossoms (ziwei 紫微) is directly before the Ziwei Emperor 紫微大帝.
Leaf 1 portrays one of the three supreme deities in the Daoist religion. Dressed in a garment and hat similar to that of an earthly emperor, this heavenly being holds a tablet in a posture also reminiscent of a mortal ruler. He is shaded by a pair of fans, surrounded by female consorts and their maidens, and attended by minister-like figures on both sides. Again, as seen in the mundane world, two guards holding weapons stand immediately in front of and below the platform that supports this majestic figure. Despite the symmetry and hierarchical composition, the whole scene comes alive in a wonderful sense of clarity and subtlety. Sketched in fine lines and evincing a wonderful sense of flow, especially in the draperies, the figural group is fully integrated in an architectural setting that is just as exquisite.
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