Hi guys, it's been awhile. I'm just finally settling back down after a year of traveling the world.
But getting to the point. I bought a statue at the Golden Temple atop Wudang Shan. At first I thought was Guan Yu. But after looking closer, I realized he had his weapon in his left hand (I'm assuming Wudang Shan isn't selling Taiwanese criminal Guan Yus). He is also holding some sort of box - which I haven't seen Guan Yu do. So next I thought it might be Xuan Wu (Zhen Wu) because he is the patron of Wudang Shan - but he doesn't look anything like any of the pictures of Xuan Wu I have seen.
There is a four character inscription in the base of the statue, and I sent it to my buddy who lives in China and he told me that even his Chinese wife cannot decipher the first two characters, but said the last two character mean "celestial ruler".
So if anyone can help, it would be much appreciated.
You have a lovely statue and it is very interesting for reasons which I will get to in a moment, but first, Zhenwu's weapon is the Seven Star Sword of the Dipper, he would never be depicted with a weapon like this, anywhere, but especially on Wudang Shan.
As for the box it is his seal box and so you have his two major aspects represented here, first as is obvious, his warrior status, and then because of carrying his seal box, it is also his status as a patron of literature. He is sometimes represented as reading the Spring and Autumn Annals and I have have lovely picture on glass which represents this, as Maspero notes, 'He is accompanied by his son, who carries his seal, and by his squire with halberd in hand.' (Henri Maspero, Taoism and Chinese Religion, University of Masschussets Press, 1981, p. 154-5)
So you are doubly blessed with this statue representing the highest martial valor as well the cultivation of learning which was a high ideal in Chinese Culture and the inspiration for such later figures as Wang Yangming.