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Spirit Wall

Spirit Wall

Qiao family workshop

This Spirit Wall originally formed part of an architectural structure that stood in front of the entrance of a temple or sacred precinct in China. The central placement of spirit walls served to prevent the entry of evil spirits, which were believed to travel only in straight lines. Composed of four separate square pieces of hollow earthenware, the wall is decorated on the front surface with lively dragon imagery in relief that is brilliantly colored in green, turquoise, yellow, black, and cream glazes. The unglazed back of the wall bears an incised inscription arranged in four vertical lines that gives the date, the reign-era, and the makers—twenty apprentice clay workers. Also on the back of the spirit wall is an inscription written in black ink that provides information about the place of production.
Qiao family workshop
Spirit Wall
Ming Dynasty (1368-1644), Longqing Reign Period (1567-1572)
Earthenware with glaze
52 x 52 in. Overall
Ineva T. Reilly Endowment Fund purchase
Accession No.
Architectural Decoration


1999, sold by Kaikodo (New York, NY) to the Elvehjem Museum of Art [now called Chazen Museum of Art]

  • Elvehjem Museum of Art. "Bulletin/Biennial Report 1999-2001." Madison: Elvehjem Museum of Art, 2002. p. 81
  • Elvehjem Museum of Art. "Artscene." Vol. 16, No. 3, Spring 2000. p. 13

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