In addition there are City gods and kitchen gods, the
earth gods who protects specific piece of land and
myriad spirits who protect wells, mountains or
bridges, distribute rain or snow, control flooding or
protect humanity from disease and epidemics
Popular religious deities of creation and prehistory,
Popular religious deities of fate and destiny health
and medicine matrimony and childbirth wealth and
From local spirit bureaucracy and the deities,
demons and ghosts of the underworld.
It is interesting that gods seem to be as numerous
and diverse as the inhabitants of the cities and
|More About Our Own Collection
Eli began collecting them when he first started going on buying trips. At the time,
almost 15 years ago, there was almost no interest in these fantastic carvings. In
fact, most of them had been hidden or buried away during the Cultural Revolution
and in the intervening years there was less and less attention paid to them.
We kept looking for more because we liked that each was unique. That is, although
we didn't believe that they were necessarily imbued with the spirit they were
supposed to represent, we liked that each had its own character, that every Kitchen
God for instance was the same but had been interpreted uniquely. Each one has its
own spirit, carved into being. We marvel at the countless and unknowable wood
carvers who made them.
Another reason we were intrigued by them is that they were mysterious, if only
because no one seemed to know very much about them, at least here in the States
and through Eli's contacts.
Around six years ago I (Craig) began searching the internet for information about
the figures but I couldn't find much information and no pictures whatsoever. But I
did come across one web site page which mentioned a scholar by the name of Keith
Stevens who had been to over 2500 local temples in China and who had written a
very good book (according to the grad student) about the statues in 1997. The
trouble was the web site was dead and only mentioned Stevens and the book in
Soon after though I did find his book Chinese Mythological Gods on Amazon.com
but it was several years before I even found out the title of the book he wrote in
1997: Chinese Gods, The Unseen World of Spirits and Demons. And it wasn't
until 2004 I found an actual copy of the book. (I now have two copies.) Then in late
2005 I received a phone call that went something like this:
"Artasia, Craig speaking."
"Hi. I saw some pictures on your web site of Chinese folk statues and I'm interested
in how you came by them?"
"Well, my brother-in-law collects them when he goes on buying trips. We don't know
much about them except we think they are all pretty much pre-Cultural Revolution.
The oldest one was from 1703, which we sold to one of our first customers."
"So you have more than the twenty on your web site?"
"Yeah, we've got about 1000. We've collect them whenever we find them."
Then "You have over 1000, the same type of statues?"
"Yeah, they're getting harder to find."
"You know there are only three collections that size in the world?"
As I recall the gentleman drove to our store that weekend, all the way from
Michigan. He is James Robson, a professor at the University of Michigan. He has
since taken a year sabbatical to study our collection and we're in the process of
learning all we can about them. We've had a passion for them for quite some time
and Professor Robson has spent a good deal of his career studying them. We'll add
more info as time goes on.
Even today museums are not that interested in the figures because they are
considered "folk art."
Folk Statue description, excerpted from Chinese
Gods by Keith Stevens:
Door Guards, Hungry Ghosts, the Heavenly Dog
who eats the moon, the wealth God who rides a
tiger, and the thousand-armed sex-change
goddess—these are just a few of the
extraordinary deities who feature in the
enormous pantheon of Chinese popular religion.
China is a land full of gods and goddesses,
ranging from the Creators of the world to
worthies local to only one or two villages. This
book introduces the reader to the most in
[portent figures of Chinese Folk History, and
those of Buddhism, Taoism and Confucianism.
Intensely pragmatic in their religion, Chinese
people hold all gods in reverence, but it is only
the ones who answer prayers with concrete
results that are exceptionally praised. Many
gods have particular specialties, for instance,
there are different wealth gods for success in
business and for gambling. There are also
individual gods for each trade, from those for
garbage men in hong kong to students tat
Antique & Ancestor Folk Statues
We have one of the largest collection of
Chinese folk statues in the world--over
1200, which we have collected over the
past 15 years. They are mainly from
Hunan and Fuxian province. There are
only three known collections of our size:
two in China and one in Europe.
Beginning in 2007 professors from the
University of Michigan and Paris will be
documenting our collection: taking
photos, translating the dedication scrolls
and cataloguing the contents of each
In 2007 our entire collection will be on
display for the first time in our Gallery.
Although we have statues in our
permanent collection, the majority of
these wonderful and unique statues are
for sale. Currently we are seeking
non-profit status for the museum in order
to attract funds to preserve and keep the
entire collection together.