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Carving of a Recumbent Mythical Beast

Asian Art

Jade animal figurines have been prominent in Chinese art since Neolithic times and are treasured for the association of jade with immortality. During the Ming and Qing dynasties (1368–1911), economic development and increased jade supply led to the wide use of jade for luxury objects like these, which depict a lion-like mythical beast that first appeared in stone tomb sculpture of the Han dynasty (206 b.c.–a.d. 220) to safeguard the spirit of the dead. Although the figures were no longer expected to provide protection, they still had auspicious meaning. One of the beasts (78.85.7) holds in its mouth a lingzhi, a type of fungus also associated with immortality.
MEDIUM Nephrite
DATES late 18th- early 19th century
DYNASTY Qing Dynasty
PERIOD Qing Dynasty
DIMENSIONS 1 3/8 x 3 1/2 in. (3.5 x 8.9 cm)  (show scale)
MUSEUM LOCATION This item is not on view
CREDIT LINE Gift of Stanley Herzman
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CAPTION Carving of a Recumbent Mythical Beast, late 18th- early 19th century. Nephrite, 1 3/8 x 3 1/2 in. (3.5 x 8.9 cm). Brooklyn Museum, Gift of Stanley Herzman, 78.85.7. Creative Commons-BY
IMAGE overall, 78.85.7_PS4.jpg. Brooklyn Museum photograph, 2015
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Carving of a Recumbent Mythical Beast