Valance with the Immortals
China. Late 19th century.

Silk and metallic embroidery on silk satin; appliquéd painted faces. 13½"x 14.'  This elaborate embroidery depicts the Eight Taoist Immortals, or patron saints, along with the God of Longevity in the center. The embroidery is in excellent condition; the ribbon along the bottom is frayed just slightly.  A 4-inch wide cotton hanging strip is turned to the back in these photos.  Read about the immortals below.

The inscriptions on the two ends of the embroidery tell us that this was a banner of congratulations sent to the Master of the House, De Qin Tang, by his grandchildren.    HOLD

E-5309   Detail below

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Large details, Immortals
Large details, Immortals
Detail: God of Longevity

Chinese Textiles
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Rito Aero, In Things Chinese. New York, 1980, describes the Immortals:

The "Pa Hsien" or Eight Immortals are Taoist representations of historical figures who have attained immortality. Individually, or in a group, sometimes crossing the sea in fragile boats or on rustic bridges on their way to the Taoist paradise.

Chung Li-ch'uan was able to revive the souls of the dead with a magic fan. Chang Kuo-Lao traveled on a magical white horse, which he folded up and put away at night. Lu Tung-Pin was granted a magic sword as a reward for overcoming ten temptations. (He couldn't resist the sword, which was his eleventh temptation.) He is the patron saint of barbers. Ts'ao Kuo-chiu always carried a pair of castanets on his person because he wanted to be prepared for any emergency. He is venerated by those in the theatrical profession. Li T'ieh-Kuao was on intimate terms with the spirit of Lao Tzu, whom he used to visit in the celestial regions. One day Li returned to find his body mission, so he had to settle for the physical form of a dying beggar. The body came complete with a crutch, so Li had to limp through the rest of his existence. Han Hsiang-tzu was borne by his teacher to the Magic Peach Tree so he could taste the immortal peaches. He fell from the branches, and would have been killed had he not bitten one on the way down. Lan Ts'ai-ho is of uncertain sex, but may have been a woman who wandered about in tattered garments getting her way. She carries a basket, and is the patroness of all gardeners. Ho Hsien-ku was a lady who lived near Guangzhou, and was revered for the long distances she went to procure dainty bamboo shoots for her ailing mother. Ho's only food was mother of pearl, which gave her the desired immortality."