Ivory statue depicting the deity Shen Nung, seated on a goat, signed Masahisa, Japanese, 1871-1900
Shen Nung is known within Chinese mythology as the ‘Divine Farmer’. He taught the ancient Chinese the practice of agriculture. He is also known as the Father of Chinese medicine. Shen Nung is credited with the discovery of hundreds of medicinal herbs. He is part-mythical figure and part-emperor. Shen Nung is thought to have ruled China about 5000 years ago. This statue of Shen Nung (also known as Shennong) depicts him seated on a goat with a rolled scroll in his hand. It is made from ivory with tortoiseshell and mother of pearl decorations. He is depicted as a ‘man of the earth’ with a leaf cloak and hat. The statue is signed Masahisa.