The Goddess Chang’e in the Lunar Palace


Artist: Formerly attributed to Zhou Wenju (傳)周文矩 (active mid-10th century)
Historical period(s)
Ming dynasty, 16th-17th century
Ink and color on silk
H x W (image): 29.5 x 29.1 cm (11 5/8 x 11 7/16 in)
Credit Line
Gift of Charles Lang Freer
Accession Number
On View Location
Currently not on view
Album, Painting

Fan (mounted as album leaf)

blue-and-green style, China, cloud, landscape, Ming dynasty (1368 - 1644), palace, rabbit, woman

To 1909
Loon Gu Sai, Beijing, to 1909 [1]

From 1909 to 1919
Charles Lang Freer (1854-1919), purchased from Loon Gu Sai, Beijing, in 1909 [2]

From 1920
Freer Gallery of Art, gift of Charles Lang Freer in 1920 [3]


[1] See Original Album List, pg. 29, Freer Gallery of Art and Arthur M. Sackler Gallery Archives. According to Ingrid Larsen, "'Don’t Send Ming or Later Pictures': Charles Lang Freer and the First Major Collection of Chinese Painting in an American Museum," Ars Orientalis vol. 40 (2011), Loon Gu Sai was possibly Lunguzhai, a store in the antiques district of Liulichang.
This object exhibits seals, colophons, or inscriptions that could provide additional information regarding the object’s history; see Curatorial Remarks in the object record for further details.

[2] See note 1.

[3] The original deed of Charles Lang Freer's gift was signed in 1906. The collection was received in 1920 upon the completion of the Freer Gallery.

Previous Owner(s)

Charles Lang Freer 1854-1919
Loon Gu Sai (C.L. Freer source)


In primordial times, the legendary hunter Yi once received the elixir of immortality from the great goddess, the Queen Mother of the West. Before he could consume the elixir, however, Yi's wife Chang'e (or Heng'e) stole the concoction and ingested it herself, thereby becoming an immortal. Fearing her husband's wrath, Chang'e fled to the moon, where she dwells for eternity in the Palace of Boundless Cold. Among the many denizens of the moon, the white rabbit, seen beside her on the terrace, is generally shown preparing the elixir of immortality with a mortar and pestle.

This fan painting bears a spurious signature of the tenth-century court painter, Zhou Wenju, who was famous for his depictions of elegant palace ladies. Despite this general thematic relationship to Zhou's work, the fan is a much later painting by a talented artist of the late-Ming dynasty (1368-1644).

Collection Area(s)
Chinese Art
Web Resources
Google Cultural Institute
Rights Statement

Copyright with museum

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