In what period did objects of worship appear in China? Could there be a possible convergence between written testimonies and archaeological remains? How was the production of icons understood, especially in light of its eventual condemnation in iconoclastic discourse? This history of cultic images designed for religious worship in China remains to be written.
The statue collections over the course of 16th to 20th centuries in central Hunan of southern China will give us insight into the local artistic tradition of statue-making, and the dynamics of multifarious religious practices consisting of a hybrid of Buddhism, Daoism, Confucian, Shamanism, and so forth. The documents contained inside these effigies, as well as the inscriptions found on the statues themselves, provide first-hand information that has not been filtered down through theological or philosophical discourses. Moreover, this art of domestic statuary—which is found far from palaces, large temples, monasteries, and painted or sculpted grottoes—is, indeed, still alive.