Material and Medium: Ivory, wood
Dimensions: Overall: 260 x 63 x 59mm (10 1/4 x 2 1/2 x 2 5/16in.)
Department: Decorative Art
Accession Number: 2007.243
This figure is of Zhang Guo Lao, one of The Eight Immortals of Daoism. Each Immortal has a different appearance, different clothing and associated symbols, and their own special powers. Most were originally figures in Chinese history, who have been mythologised.
Zhang Guo Lao is believed to have lived in the 7th-8th century and to have held the secret of immortality. Legends tell that he was transformed into a human from a bat. He was a recluse who attained supernatural power and performed magic.
Both a sage and a hermit, he carried a bamboo drum and drumsticks, as this figure does. He is dressed as an elderly, educated gentleman. He would travel all over the world to help people, riding a magical mule, which could be folded like a sheet of paper and put in his pocket when not in use.