The Jade Emperor: Identifying a Chinese Ceramic Sculpture

No Thumbnail Available
Knight, Mackenzie
Major Professor
Committee Member
Journal Title
Journal ISSN
Volume Title
Research Projects
Organizational Units
Organizational Unit
Art and Visual Culture

The Department of Integrated Studio Arts offers an undergraduate Bachelor of Fine Arts in Integrated Studio Arts.

The Department of Integrated Studio Arts was established in 2012. Prior, it operated as a program in the Department of Art and Design.

Dates of Existence

Related Units

Journal Issue
Is Version Of
Symposium on Undergraduate Research and Creative Expression
Iowa State University Conferences and Symposia

The Symposium provides undergraduates from all academic disciplines with an opportunity to share their research with the university community and other guests through conference-style oral presentations. The Symposium represents part of a larger effort of Iowa State University to enhance, support, and celebrate undergraduate research activity.

Though coordinated by the University Honors Program, all undergraduate students are eligible and encouraged to participate in the Symposium. Undergraduates conducting research but not yet ready to present their work are encouraged to attend the Symposium to learn about the presentation process and students not currently involved in research are encouraged to attend the Symposium to learn about the broad range of undergraduate research activities that are taking place at ISU.

The first Symposium was held in April 2007. The 39 students who presented research and their mentors collectively represented all of ISU's Colleges: Agriculture and Life Sciences, Business, Design, Engineering, Human Sciences, Liberal Arts and Sciences, Veterinary Medicine, and the Graduate College. The event has grown to regularly include more than 100 students presenting on topics that span the broad range of disciplines studied at ISU.


A ceramic sculpture in the collection of the Brunnier Museum at Iowa State University depicts a bearded male figure sitting in front of a flaming mandorla, a background used to frame and imbue a transcendent quality to spiritual figures. The piece is covered with green and orange glaze. Tradition Chinese calligraphy runs down the center of the mandorla. The sculpture is simply titled Figurine and Throne by the Museum and attributed to the Tang dynasty (618-907 C.E.). My research has identified the figure as the Jade Emperor, and thanks to interpretations of the calligraphy by Dr. Li Tonglu and Dr. Stephen Eskildsen we can date it to the Ming dynasty (1368-1644). The Jade Emperor is an important Taoist Deity who is the supreme ruler over heaven and earth. He is often depicted, like the ceramic figure, wearing a ceremonial cap called mien with hanging jade beads. His cult was especially encouraged during the Ming Dynasty, a fact which supports the re-dating of the piece to that period.