Chinese Antique Shiwan Ware Pottery

Antique Chinese Shiwan Figure | He Xian Gu


Descriptive qualities& condition:

Dimension: 4-0”h x 1-3/4”w x 1-13/4”d

This wonderful small Shiwan figure is from the Guangdong province, China, and obviously created by a talented master artist. The clay and high-fired ceramic is finished in a wonderful off-white crackle glaze. He Xian Gu, who the figure represents was considered the only woman among the Immortals and said to be the daughter of He Tai, living in Zengcheng, Guangdong. He Xian Gu is said to improve one's mental and physical health. 

As detailed in this figure she is holding a lotus flower with a blueish-grey glazed stem in her right hand as it rests against her shoulder. Her face is highlighted by a blue-glaze undergarment, with unglazed hand and face showing a wonderfully expressive detail, with her dark brown glazed hair raised above her head in a traditional manner. Her robe, with a delicate bow in front, flows gently around her body defining the figure as she sits on a textured brown glazed rock. The sandy course clay used to create this figure, and seen on the underneath side, authenticates that this piece from the Guangdong province, and by the impressed mark substantiates that it is over 120 years old. The piece is hand-formed, unique, and most likely a limited edition illustrating a long history reflecting the religious beliefs of this ancient culture. Collectors of Shiwan ware consider such a piece extremely rare because of the art/craftsmanship and their delicate, fragile nature. The piece has an impressed seal on the back that reads CHINA (1890-1920), but difficult to read because of the over-glazing.

This piece is from the Estate of Rudolph Schaeffer, (1886-1988) who headed the School of Art & Design in Chinatown & Potrero Hill San Francisco which closed in 1984. He had an extremely large collection of Chinese artifacts and particularly Shiwan Art pottery.

Condition: Remarkably good condition for its age, gentle wear, and fully intact.

NOTE: In Chinese mythology, the Eight Immortal were a legendary group of eight individual beings who had transcended the human state to become endowed with divine and supernatural attributes or powers. Each immortal is endowed with a power that can give life or help their fight against evil.  Most of the Eight Immortals were born during either the Tang or Song dynasties and venerated by Taoists and became popular in Chinese culture.