Rectangular tray with Daoist Immortals, Ming dynasty (1368–1644), 16th century
Black lacquer with mother–of–pearl inlay; basketry sides; H. 1 3/4 in. (4.4 cm), W. 18 3/8 (46.7 cm), D. 11 5/8 (29.5)
Purchase, Barbara and William Karatz Gift, 2006 (2006.238)
Standing on a riverbank and flanked by an ancient pine and a blooming peach tree, eight Daoist immortals await the arrival of Shoulao, the god of longevity, who flies above the waves on the back of a crane. This group includes two female immortals, an unusual variation on the canonical Eight Immortals, who gained great popularity in the Yuan dynasty (1271–1368) when one of the two major Daoist orders, the Quanzhen (Perfect Realization), used these legendary figures to spread their teachings through songs, stories, and theatrical dramas.