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Hanging scroll; ink and color on silk
Image: 100.5 x 38.4 cm (39 9/16 x 15 1/8 in.); Overall with knobs: 182 x 59.2 cm (71 5/8 x 23 5/16 in.)
Edward L. Whittemore Fund 1982.29.1
Escaping to a Better World: Eccentrics and Immortals in Chinese Art (Chinese art rotation)
Li Tieguai is one of the Eight Daoist immortals.
It is said that Li Tieguai’s ethereal self visited the deified Laozi but when he returned, he found that his own body was burned. He had to inhabit the corpse of a person who used a crutch to walk, and thus gained his name Tieguai—the Iron Crutch.
The painting depicts Li Tieguai after he took possession of the body, with the iron staff in his hand. As Li exhales, he blows a small Li Tieguai in the air, showing the immortal’s ability to send his spirit on journeys.
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