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Object Record

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Object ID # 1959.048.001
Object Name Sculpture
Title "Li of the Iron Crutch" Sculpture
Lexicon category 8: Communication Artifact
Date 19th-century?
Year Range to 1900
Made Unknown
Place of Origin China?
Description Hand-carved wooden sculpture, depicting a Chinese Taoist Immortal, "Li of the Iron Crutch"
The central figure is the largest of the group of three figures. It depicts an emaciated beggar, who has what appears to be a bedroll on his back. One can see his rib bones. He is posed with one leg up, and he holds a cane (crutch), as he is crippled. In his other hand, he holds a gourd that contains a magical substance. To the left of "Li" is a primitive-looking bird carving.
To the right of "Li" is a smaller-sized, smiling male figure, which is posed with his hands as a focal point. It is unknown what he expressing or who he represents. There is a signature on the wood in one smooth area which has not yet been identified. The sculpture is on a rectangular wooden stand.

Makers mark Chinese lettering on the "Li" figure needs to be translated yet. A Chinese visitor said that the name on it is a common name, something like what "John Smith" would be in our culture.
There is also a mark present on the breast area of the bird carving.
Provenance The sculpture formerly belonged to Dr. Edward H. Horsey [1867-1902]. He was an Owen Sound citizen who had a brief medical practice in Owen Sound, and then spent some time in Asia as an executive for the Sun Life Insurance Company, where he presumably purchased the sculpture. It is undetermined what year he returned to Grey County with it.

The age of the sculpture is not known, but Dr. Horsey likely obtained it in China in the 1890s. The wood carver's name needs more research to identify from what part of China the sculpture originates.

In 1900, Dr. Horsey was elected as a Liberal Member of Parliament. He is listed in the 1901 census of Owen Sound. In 1902, he was killed in a freak accident at the Sun Cement Co. in Owen Sound, while he was conducting a tour. His obituary gives a detailed account of the accident.

Mrs. Horsey was formerly Leila MacDonald [1867-1957]. She lived in Britain after her husband's death. At some point in the past, the sculpture was on public display at the Simpson's department store in Toronto.

This sculpture was displayed for a time at the Owen Sound Public Library. Ioleen Hawken, Librarian, had it transferred to the Grey County Historical & Art Society at Owen Sound in 1959, in order to better protect it. In 1967, it moved to the new County of Grey-Owen Sound Museum. In 2004 it moved to the Grey Roots Museum.
Collection Fine Art Collection
Material Wood/Finish/Glass
Medium Wood
Found Owen Sound, Grey County
People Horsey, Dr. Edward
Subjects China
Chinese Mythology
Woodworking
Carving
Search Terms Chinese
Sun Cement Company (Owen Sound)
Cement Industry (at Owen Sound)
Owen Sound Public Library