17th Century; Northern Elm and miscellaneous secondary wood; Shanxi
This magnificent shrine is red-lacquered,, gilded, and decorated with paintings and intricate carvings. It has a pagoda roof with gilded ornaments across the top. The shrine is fenced on three sides with spaced out spear-shaped slats, and the back with a solid panel behind which is painted a lively dragon. The fencing in front has an opening in the middle, serving as entrance to the shrine. Above the entrance and underneath the roof in front is an elaborately carved panel with four columns of protruded intricate carvings of dragon heads. Below this panel is an apron on which is an open carving of a phoenix, with four dragon heads on the sides sticking out from four round posts, guarding the entrance to the shrine. Each corner of the shrine is supported by a sturdy post which tenons through a deck on which the shrine sits. The deck has a walkway and balustrade on four sides, with an opening in front to access the entrance.
The deck on which the shrine sits becomes the top of a four-sided table with a waist from which painted aprons arch out and naturally curved into cabriole legs gracefully tapered into scrolled feet. This table is suspended by another structure with straight legs which are the continuation of the corner posts of the shrine above, which have tenoned through the deck to become legs supporting the table with cabriole legs. Each cabriole leg attaches itself a little way above the straight leg. The inside legs support a walled shelf suspended a few inches off the ground. This very complexly designed and constructed big model of a shrine, a very rare and beautiful relic passed down from Ming Dynasty, has survived in excellent condition.