China, 17th-18th century. Well modeled, with the god of longevity shown holding a scroll while seated atop a separately cast recumbent stag with removable gilt antlers. Shoulao's wide sleeve is pierced to let out the smoke rising from within the deer's hollowed back. The interior of the figure is set with a short peg to fit into a pierced aperture on the deer.
Provenance: From a private collection on 700 Park Avenue, Manhattan, New York, USA.
Condition: Good condition with some old wear and expected casting irregularities, tarnishing to silver, light scratches, tiny nicks, small dents, minute touchups to the gilding of the antlers.
Weight: 3,269 g
Dimensions: Height 25 cm, Length 27 cm
During the Qing Dynasty in China, incense burners served not only functional purposes but were also commissioned as decorative objects with deep symbolic significance. These burners often took the form of auspicious animals or figures, reflecting the cultural beliefs and aspirations of the time.
Shoulao held great importance in Chinese culture as he represented the desire for longevity and good health. His portrayal with a large head symbolized wisdom, while his long beard signified old age. It was believed that by venerating Shoulao and leading a virtuous and balanced life, individuals could attain longevity and even immortality.
Deer are associated with the Daoist concept of immortality due to their believed exceptional lifespan. This led to deer becoming symbolic representations of the wish for a long and prosperous life. In Chinese mythology, they were often depicted as messengers of immortals, possessing magical abilities.
Together, Shoulao and the deer exemplify the aspirations for longevity and good fortune.
See the collection of the Victoria & Albert Museum for a closely related group of figural censers that show immortals astride various creatures, particularly accession nos. M.264BODY-1929, M.265-1929, and M.2-1922.
Auction result comparison:
Type: Closely related
Auction: Christie's New York, 20 March 2001, lot 64
Price: USD 10,575 or approx. EUR 17,000 converted and adjusted for inflation at the time of writing
Description: A bronze incense burner and cover formed as Shoulao riding a deer, 17th/18th century
Expert remark: Compare the related subject, modeling, and manner of casting. Note the size (41.2 cm).
Auction result comparison:
Auction: Christie's New York, 19 March 2008, lot 334
Price: USD 23,750 or approx. EUR 31,500 converted and adjusted for inflation at the time of writing
Description: An unusual small lacquered bronze 'Shoulao and deer' incense burner, 17th/18th century
Expert remark: Compare the related subject, modeling, manner of casting, and size (24.7 cm). Note the lacquer.
來源：美國紐約曼哈頓公園大道 700 號私人收藏。
尺寸：高 25 厘米, 長 27 厘米
價格：USD 10,575（相當於今日EUR 17,000）
價格：USD 23,750（相當於今日EUR 31,500）