Magu offering wine | China | Qing dynasty (1644–1911), 18th or early 19th century | Kesi (silk tapestry), hanging scroll | 135.2 x 75.7 cm | Gift of Dr Lam Kwok Pun | HKU.T.2004.1670

Magu offering wine

TitleMagu offering wine
PeriodQing dynasty (1644–1911), 18th or early 19th century
MediumSilk tapestry (kesi), hanging scroll
Dimensions135.2 x 75.7 cm
CollectionUniversity Museum and Art Gallery, HKU
ProvenanceGift of Dr Lam Kwok Pun

Accompanied by a phoenix and a child attendant holding a ruyi (a wish-granting wand or scepter), the figure on this scroll is Magu, the Goddess of Longevity. According to Daoist myth, Magu became an immortal and witnessed the Eastern Ocean dry up and turn into mulberry fields three times, indicating her transcendence of time. Here, she carries two wine cups and a lingzhi mushroom on a platter, from which she brews longevity wine for the birthday banquet of the Queen Mother of the West. The white pearls of her headdress were painted with brushes using a technique known as kehua (‘silk tapestry and painting’), which is characteristic of kesi produced during the reign of the Qianlong Emperor (1736–95). The choice of this figure—together with auspicious chrysanthemums and five bats surrounding a shou (longevity) character on her dress—suggests that the tapestry was intended as a birthday present, most likely for a woman.