- Museum number
- Object: Demon-Queller Zhong Kui; 鍾馗; Zhong Kui
Woodblock print in ink and colour with hand-colouring on paper.
Zhong Kui with a demon who carries a platter of jewels, branches of coral and elephant tusks.
- Production date
Height: 29.40 centimetres (Royal mount)
Width: 21.20 centimetres
- Curator's comments
- Legends about Zhong Kui place the origin of his story in the 8th century AD, when he appeared in an emperor’s dream to kill a demon harassing the ruler (the legends themselves post date the 8th century). Further anecdotes added to Zhong Kui’s reputation. Here he has a full beard and bulging eyes. The bud-shaped hat ties bobbing at each side of his head are supposedly demon-detecting devices that point to unforeseen dangers. In popular prints Zhong Kui is usually depicted performing an exorcist’s dance. In this print he has subdued a demon to carry a platter of gleaming jewels, branches of coral and elephant tusks, all symbols of wealth.
Images of Zhong Kui were believed especially important to ward off evil at both the Chinese New Year and were also deemed helpful in dispelling evil at the time of Double Five, the fifth day of the fifth lunar month, marking the beginning of hot summer weather, when a multitude of diseases and misfortunes might occur. This print includes the image of a branch of blossoming plum appearing from behind Zhong Kui's back and since the tree blossoms around the time of the lunar New Year, this print was likely made for display at that time of year. It was a popular New Year custom to display images of Zhong Kui to protect a household.
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
2010 May-Sep, BM, Dept of Asia, The Printed Image in China
2012 5th May -29th July, New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, ‘The Printed Image in China’
- Acquisition date
- Registration number