figure (ritual & belief: representations)

Carved soapstone figure of Jiang Ziya, also known as Jiang Taigong (Grand Duke Jiang), standing on a giant fish with a dragon head. He dresses in a long robe and holds a triangular flag in his right hand that is incised with a Chinese character "ling" (command). The figure has a hole in its base, which fixes onto a metal peg on the dragon fish's back. The dragon fish is a separate piece of stone. Jiang Ziya was a military strategist in the Western Zhou dynasty (1027-771 BC). His association with fish is due to his unusual way of fishing, in which he only used a straight hook with no bait. Everyone was teasing him but he ignored all the criticism and finally caught a big fish. He also found a military classic, Art of War, inside its stomach. His story later became a popular Chinese saying or Xiehouyu: "Jiang taigong diao yu, yuan zhe shang gou", literally translated as 'When Grand Duke Jiang goes fishing, he catches those who are willing to swallow the hook themselves.'

Collection Information

These objects are only a part of our collections, of which there are more than 350,000 objects. This information comes from our collections database. Some of this is incomplete and there may be errors. This part of the website is also still under construction, so there may be some fields repeated or incorrectly formatted information.

The database sometimes uses language taken from historical documents to help research, which may now appear outdated and even offensive. The database also includes information on objects that are considered secret or sacred by some communities.

If you have any further information about objects in our collections or can suggest corrections to our information, please contact us: