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Masterpiece: Liu Hai Playing with the Golden Toad

The work of "Liu Hai Playing with the Golden Toad" was carved in the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911). Royal households and high officials collected most of the boxwood carvings dating from ancient times; only a fraction was placed in the temples. The small figure carvings, especially those exceeding 20 centimeters in height, are very rare today.

Liu Hai is a legendary Taoist sage who sprinkles money and brings fortune to the people. The image of Liu Hai playing with the golden toad usually appears in folk paintings during the lunar New Year. Thus the figure is deemed as an auspicious symbol and is deeply loved by the people.

"Liu Hai Playing with the Golden Toad" is 24 centimeters tall, with a baseboard that is 15 centimeters in diameter. The whole work is dark yellow, yet bright and lovely. The main figure, bare-footed Liu Hai, carrying a golden toad on his back, is leaning a bit forward and is about to take another step. Liu Hai's complexion is very vivid and delicately carved: His eyes and eyebrows look very kind, the wings of his nose are plump, and the lines of his lips are also very clear.

Liu's body is slim with distinctive ribs though the clothes are loose. However, the man still looks relaxed with his elegant poise and sagely features. The ancient sculptor has put life into the woodcarving with his adept skills, leaving behind a Taoist sage who always seems to be moving.

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