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Antique Chinese Pith Painting Large - c. 1850, China
Extraordinary Chinese painting on pith paper sometimes referred to, erroneously, as rice paper. It depicts a richly dressed man, wearing a black winter mandarin hat with a peacock feather, next to a similarly dressed boy holding a ruyi scepter. This kind of head wear was known as Qing Guanmao and was worn by officials during the Qing dynasty (1644–1912). The color of the hat's finial is also a clue of the wearer's rank, pearls indicating the highest and reserved for royalty and nobility, followed in decreasing importance by: ruby, coral, sapphire, crystal, mother of pearl, gold and clear amber.
Pith paper comes from the center of a tree and converting it into sheets requires a great deal of skill. For this reason, rarely, if ever, paintings on pith paper exceed the size of this one. The vibrancy of its colors is also rare as most have faded over time. Pith paintings, as a rule, are unsigned but we have seen similar items described as c. 1850. We have not examined it out of the frame as pith paper is quite delicate and easy to break. All photos were taken through the glass which explains reflections. Camera is not able to capture through glass the full beauty of the colors and details of this painting. In very good condition with minor toning and foxing as shown. Shipped fully insured with tracking number.
Measurements Frame17" by 12". Visible Image 12 3/8" by 7 3/8" (31.4 cm by 18.7 cm) approximately.
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Ruth, Wilmington, DE
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