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Red Sandalwood Sculpture of Penglai, Isle of the Immortals

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Period: Guangxu reign (1875-1908), Qing dynasty (1644-1911)
Medium: red sandalwood, jade, aventurine glass, turquoise, jadeite, agate, and crystals
Date: 1894
Origin: Beijing
Dimensions: height: 130 cm, width: 117 cm

On this red sandalwood mountain in the cave "Jade Pavilions and Jasper Lake" (yuyu yaochi), the Queen Mother of the West (Xi wangmu) sits formally, holding a Ruyi sceptre. Two maids stand beside her, each carrying a fan. Outside the cave, flat peach trees yield abundant fruits. White monkeys are busy presenting peaches to the Queen Mother. Eight Immortals (ba xian) coming from various directions also offer their birthday congratulations to the Queen Mother.   
  Chinese myth says that the immortal Queen Mother of the West planted the so-called flat peach tree (the peaches of immortality) at her abode. Every three thousand years when the fruit ripened, she would invite other immortals to a peach feast celebrating her birthday. This event was called the "Celebration at Jasper Lake" (Yaochi jiqing).   
  Craftsmen used different materials to carve the fabled figures, monkeys, sika deer, and plants, successfully creating a fantastic landscape. This was one of six fairyland sculptures presented by courtiers for Cixi's sixtieth birthday celebration in 1894. Beijing antique shop owner Mr. Gu Yongbao supervised its manufacture.

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