Bronze figure of a female immortal, Magu

Ming to Qing dynasty 17th – 18th century

Height: 8 5⁄8 inches, 22 cm

A bronze female figure depicted in a standing position, holding a bowl with a peach. She is dressed in layered robes and a shawl decorated with a continuous pattern of large ruyi heads, and a ribbon-like long scarf around her neck. Her head is turned slightly towards the left, with her hair neatly tied up into a bun. Her demure face is well defined with downcast eyes, arched nose and full lips. The bronze is of even, dark brown colour.


As a popular Daoist goddess of longevity, Magu (literally meaning ‘hemp lady’) is almost always depicted as a beautiful lady carrying a basket of life-granting peaches. The present example of Magu, holding up a peach with both her hands, matches the motif called ‘Magu offering longevity (Magu xianshou)’ .[1] A comparable wood figure of Magu, closely similar in size, hair style and the floating ribbon scarf, dated to the Qing dynasty (1644 – 1911), is in the collection of the Palace Museum, Beijing.[2] Another Qing dynasty representation of Magu, made of jade and similarly holding a peach, is in the collection of the National Palace Museum, Taipei.[3]

  1. Tse Bartholomew, T., Hidden Meanings in Chinese Art, Asian Art Museum, San Francisco, 2006, 7.27, p. 191
  2. Liu, J. ed. Chinese Bamboo, Wood, Ivory, Rhinoceros Horn Illustration Catalogue.Vol. Three.Wood Carvings (Part 2), Wenwu chubanshe, Beijing, 2009, no. 72, p.69
  3. National Palace Museum, Taipei, online collection archive no 故玉 534