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Subject:Chinese Immortals - Frame and un-framed Silk Dolls
Posted By: Mervin Mon, Nov 27, 2017 IP:

I know some what the story of the 8 immortals from googling. A very interest legend of chinese culture. Any information on the process, age or area of origin in China of these dolls will be greatly appreciated. The framed one is 30 1/4" x 11 1/4 and in pretty good condition, but contains a 9th figure, Who is the 9th figure? The un-framed one is in rough shape and in need of some expert repair, can it be repaired?

Subject:Re: Chinese Immortals - Frame and un-framed Silk Dolls
Posted By: Bill H Tue, Nov 28, 2017

Chinese Daoists usually respect the Eight Immortals as senior among their kind, but the Japanese recognize two longevity deities among their Seven Lucky Gods, Jurojin and Fukurokuju. I believe your Eight Immortal piece began life as an octagonal waste paper basket for the office desk, or at least that's how I've seen such things configured in the past. It originally would have had a drop-down octagonal cardboard base. Since office wastepaper baskets take some wear and tear, I've come across more than one of them flattened and framed, or stuck to a stiff backing and hung on the wall.

A lot of these baskets were made in Taiwan during the third quarter of the 20th century, when cottage industries were popular and a large American military presence was around to buy the arts and crafts these workshops produced. It may be that your framed picture was made there too, since Taiwan was a province of Japan from the end of the 19th century until 1945 and remains a popular destination for Japanese tourists to this day. There would also be a market for the nine-Immortal piece among Taiwanese who began respecting both Japanese and Chinese beliefs when the island was ruled by Japan.

You might be able to find some of those recycled Eight Immortals baskets up for auction on eBay, but I doubt if any are worth the cost of professional restoration. I'd suggest that you try dabbing a household 3-percent hydrogen peroxide solution on an inconspicuous spot to see if the peroxide will remove the stains without discoloring the silk. If this works, it probably should be used only on the blue silk background, as some features in the figures appear to be painted on.

Best regards,

Bill H.

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