C.C. Wang

Ancient Chinese Scroll ‘Procession of Taoist Immortals’ Missing

C.C. Wang
The prized scroll is part of a collection by the late C.C. Wang, above.

The Procession of Taoist Immortals  Scroll is an important relic of ancient China, but it went missing during a heated estate battle.

The scroll of the Procession of Taoist Immortals is considered a Chinese national treasure.  It is thought to have been created sometime during the middle of the 11th century by a muralist named Wu Zongyuan. While the scroll itself is unsigned, a note attached to the work in 1304 named the artist, and historical records show that Zongyuan was known to be a muralist in the mid-11th century.

An associate curator at the Smithsonian Institution’s Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery, Stephen Allee, spoke of the scroll as being impressive, especially in its size.  He feels the work is imposing; it is large, measuring about seven meters in length, and has a value reaching into the tens of millions of dollars.  Allee also suggests that the scroll, known as a hand scroll, was quite likely in very good condition and envisioned, when created, to be used as a draft for making a mural.

The Taoist philosophy and religion is a system dating from 2nd century AD China and has played an important role in the development of the Chinese culture, especially in the areas of literature and the arts.  The scroll of the Procession of Taoist Immortals was very likely the first of its kind, representing a major piece of Chinese national treasure.  It was held in the collection of C.C. Wang, but has since gone missing, as have many other pieces of irreplaceable Chinese history held by Wang’s hotly contested estate. While foul play has been suspected, there is no evidence of it yet.  There are few early master works from this period of Chinese history still in existence; the loss of one of them represents the loss of a large portion of the history of Taoism.  Such a loss is a deeply felt and spiritual loss for the people of China.


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