Ancestor portrait of a civil official
D. 129 cm x 71 cm
Chinese ancestor portraits are part of a very important artistic and familial tradition in China. Indeed, these portraits painted on rice paper are part of the cult of ancestors which allows to keep the link between the dead and the living. The portrait shows the deceased in a static frontal position. He is wearing his civil official’s costume on which a bird appears at chest level, indicating the rank of the deceased, in this case a civil official. A high ranking official never walks with his head uncovered, except in private, and here he is shown wearing a typical small black satin hat decorated with red fringes on top. They were then progressively replaced by photography at the end of the 19th century.
These portraits emphasised the social status of the family and were displayed in the houses. The descendants honoured the spirits of their ancestors by offering them gifts and food.
The piece is in very good condition.