Clive Farahar Antiquarian Books - Rare and Antiquarian Books and Manuscripts

CHINA. A Taoist Dragon Scroll of the Mien or Yao People of Southern China, Thailand, Laos and North Vietnam,   late Qing, c1900
135 x 9½ ins 343 x 25 cm. painted on cloth, mounted on paper sheets, the inscription at the beginning ???? is a little worn and rubbed, preserved on a solander case,
The Scroll Painting serves as a Bridge that connects this world with the supernatural worlds. From the left are two acolytes and two banner bearers welcoming the procession, and the inscription in Chinese literally ????
"Welcome to the Emperor" or in this case Honoured Guest or Friend. Peasant organisations such as "Heaven and Earth Committees" would use it to welcome the leader of their alliance and honorable guests. At the head are a pair of mace bearing demons, Tai Wei on a White Horse leads the procession, which includes twelve Immortal Maidens, ten Sword Brandishing Celestial Worthies with the rear brought up by an Elephant commanded by another Sword Brandishing Worthy. Mien or Yao Taoist paintings are religious, not decorative. Each has a ritual function and is considered the abode of the gods. During the one to two months it takes to complete a set of paintings, the artist must work in an atmosphere of religious devotion and ceremonial purity. When the work is finished, the painter himself 'opens the eyes' of each character according to the Chinese custom for consecrating Taoist icons. The Mien Taoist tradition goes further and also requires a priest to perform a ceremony that introduces the gods to the paintings. Priests then display the set of paintings in a certain order to play a part in ceremonies. At other times, they are rolled and stored up in a box hanging near the domestic altar. When a set of paintings is judged worn out, the owner may decide to replace it. They include 17 large vertical Altar Hangings, and a Pantheon Scroll such as the one her, and smaller paintings. The 'Yao', are one of the many semi-migratory people living in the highlands of southern China, and the northern regions of Thailand, Laos and Vietnam. They practice "Swidden", or slash-and-burn agriculture, mainly for the growing of rice for their own consumption and maize with which to feed their pigs and poultry. During approximately three thousand years of contact with the Chinese, they have acquired many elements of Chinese culture. They have merged Chinese Taoism, including the Chinese Taoist painting tradition, with their animist beliefs to form a unique tradition of Taoism. See Haffenreffer Museum of Anthropology, Brown University, Rhode Island. McIntosh Yao Mien Ceremonial Painting.
SE Asia

Stock ref: 13606