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Protective Amulet

Accession Number
2006/2.44

Title
Protective Amulet

Artist(s)
Taiwanese

Object Creation Date
20th century

Medium & Support
polychrome on wood

Dimensions
8 3/8 in. x 8 9/16 in. x 1/2 in. ( 21.2 cm x 21.8 cm x 1.2 cm )

Credit Line
Gift of Ellen and Richard Laing

Label copy
Decorating the home to invite tidings of good fortune as well as ward off evil is a traditional practice. This plaque, in the form of a snarling lion’s face, would have been mounted above a door to protect a house against malign influences. The lion, the fearsome king of beasts, holds a double-edged “seven star” (Great Dipper) sword in its mouth, and on its forehead is a red octagon containing the characters for daqi, or the “Supreme Ultimate” of Daoist beliefs, surrounded by the eight trigrams (combinations of broken and unbroken lines) used in Daoist cosmology. The “seven-star” sword is used in Daoist exorcisms to expel demons. Daoism—meaning “The Way”-- is a philosophy and religion, originating in China, that stresses living in harmony with cosmic laws believed to direct the universe. The plaque contains an array of motifs, each believed to exert a strong influence against evil.
(Label for UMMA Chinese Gallery Opening Rotation, March 2009)

Subject matter
This plaque would be mounted above a door to protect a house against malign influences. Each motif exerts a strong influence against evil: the lion is the fearsome king of beasts; the "seven stars" represent the Great Dipper, one of the most powerful asterisms in Daoist heaven; the "seven-star" sword is used in Daoist exorcisms to expe demons; "daqi" is the "Supreme Ultimate" of Daoist beliefs and in conjunction with the eight trigrams (combinations of broken and unbroken lines) is common in good omen designs.

Physical Description
Plaque in the form of a snarling lion's face holding a double-edged "severn star" (here only three of the seven stars are depicted as large dots connected by lines) sword in its mouth and ornamented with a red octagon containing the characters for "daqi" surrounded by eight trigrams on its forehead.

Primary Object Classification
Wood and Woodcarving

Primary Object Type
plaque

Additional Object Classification(s)
Decorative Arts

Rights
If you are interested in using an image for a publication, please visit http://umma.umich.edu/request-image for more information and to fill out the online Image Rights and Reproductions Request Form.

Keywords
amulets
demons
plaques (flat objects)
swords

& Author Notes

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