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Ancestor portrait

  • Place of origin:

    China (made)

  • Date:

    18th century (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Ink and colours on paper

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    China, Room 44, The T.T. Tsui Gallery, case 69

Ancestor worship was practised at all levels of society in ancient China. Ancestor portraits were displayed together with offerings to the spirits of dead members of the family, and were brought out on special occasions like New Year and birthdays.

Physical description

Ancestor Portrait of a figure wearing a rank badge showing a xiezhi獬豸. This mythical creature symbolised justice, reputedly goring the guilty with the single horn on the back of its head. It was used on the rank badges of members of the Imperial Censorate, an institution tasked with rooting out corruption in the official bureaucracy. The sitter in this portrait is dressed in an ornate blue outer robe over a dragon robe. He is seated on an elaborate chair with a tiger skin cover, the tiger’s forepaws, nose and eye sockets protrude beneath the hem of his robe. The chair is decorated with floral motifs.

Place of Origin

China (made)


18th century (made)



Materials and Techniques

Ink and colours on paper


Height: 183.5 cm, Width: 112 cm

Object history note

Purchased from Dr H.G. Stockley in 1956, as one of a group of four paintings (E.360 to 363-1956). It is likely that Dr Stockley acquired these paintings when working as a medical missionary in North China from 1924-1927.

Descriptive line

Ancestor Portrait, ink, colours and gold on paper, China, 18th century.


Ink; Colour; Paper



Subjects depicted

Social status; Costume; Floral patterns; Dragons; Soldiers; Tiger (animal); Thrones; Wealth; History


Images Online; Paintings


East Asia Collection

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