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Auspicious Beasts

14.25" x 14.25" x 2.5” (Framed to 16"x 16" x 3.75”)

Pen and Ink on hand cut, suspended, layered paper (Shadowbox Paper Sculpture)


Chinese mythology is full of fantastic supernatural and mythical creatures and as such it was a natural choice for this narrative shadowbox. This piece depicts a scene with four benevolent beasts choosing a divine ruler.

From left to right and top to bottom it showcases the Quilin (麒麟) - a hooved chimera that is known to be a divine and peaceful creature yet fearsome and only righteously punishing the wicked. A symbol of luck, fertility and protection, it is said to appear to a benevolent ruler and allow only the pure of heart to be carried on its back.

Xuanwu (玄武) - to achieve divinity Xian Wu, a mortal prince, had to purge his sins which lived in his intestine and stomach. To purify them he cut them out and washed them in a river. His stomach turned into a large demonic turtle and the intestine took on a shape of the snake. Xian Wu subdued them and instead of destroying the creatures he allowed them to atone. Intertwined, the Snake and the Tortoise became the symbols of longevity, fertility, and balance.

Zouyu (騶虞) - a fairly unknown legendary creature which is mentioned in old Chinese literature. Described as a righteous animal resembling a fierce-looking tiger yet as gentle as a flower, which, similar to a Quilin, only appears and bows to a sincere and benevolent monarch.

Available for purchase.

If you are interested in a collectors preview, availability or purchase information please contact Susannah & Neil at gallerist@antlerpdx.com