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Ivory Examination God

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Period: late Ming dynasty (1368-1644)
Medium: ivory
Dimensions: height: 16.3 cm, bottom diameter: 5 cm

Called kuixing, the Examination God represents the first star of the Big Dipper and was traditionally depicted as a ghost raising his foot to kick the Big Dipper or grasping a brush in one hand and an inkstick in the other. This ivory statue is unusual in combining both iconographic motifs: the left leg bending to kick something and the hands holding writing implements. While looking up into the sky, the god's right foot rests on a turtle's head, implying that he tops the list of successful candidates.   
  The sharp and clear lines contribute to exquisite patterns. This god statue with vivid and lively actions is a masterpiece of Ming dynasty three-dimensional carving. In 1954 it was donated by Mr. Xia Xizhong.

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