Immortal Li Tieguai - (1878-5)

Boxwood (huang yang mu) carving of ‘Li Tieguai ‘ or Iron-Crutch Li (李铁拐/李鐵拐). Li is sometimes described as ill-tempered, but also benevolent to the poor, sick and the needy. He is often portrayed as an ugly old beggar with a dirty face, scraggy beard, and messy hair who walks with the aid of an iron crutch (t'ieh guai) and often has a gourd slung over his shoulder. The legend says that Li studied with Lao Zi, the founder of Taoism. Li is said to have renounced material comforts and led a life of self-discipline as an act of religious devotion for 40 years, often going without food or sleep. His characteristic emblems are the gourd bottle and his iron crutch. With the elixir from the gourd he could revive people and cure illness. His crutch that would never rust or break was not only used as a support but also as a weapon to fight for the rights of the poor and those in need. The Eight Immortals (八仙) are a group of legendary saints in Chinese mythology. Their power can bestow life or destroy evil. This small carving entered our collection in 1968. It was discovered in a small oriental shop in the Eastern part of the Netherlands together with four other Immortals. In total there should have been eight Immortals but three had already been sold. The quality of these figures is exceptional. They were made around the early 1960’s or late 1950’s. This carving still has its original stand. Size without stand: Height 10.3 cm. Width 4 cm. Depth 3 cm.
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