Originating during the Six Dynasties period (222-589 A.D.), this type of figure is known as a tomb guardian, for originally, a pair of such figures always stood guard at the tombs of Chinese rulers. Traditionally, both figures in the pair are mythological composite creatures, one always an amalgamation of various animals while the other combined of human and animal traits. These guardians are a general type of Chinese art known as mingqi. Mingqi were any of a variety of objects specifically created for interment in the tombs of elite individuals in order to provide for the afterlife. These guardians were most likely interred in order to ward off potential tomb robbers or perhaps evil spirits in the next world that might try to infiltrate the tomb. While just half of a pair, this guardian stands alone as a remarkable example of the exotic beauty of these fantastical creatures. This mythological beast combines the body of a feline, the legs of a steed, and the head of a human. Delicately molded wings of flames emerge from his body and form and dramatic frame. A large orange horn decorated with black spots rises out of his head, between his animal ears that look like fish fins. His face has been expertly rendered, conveying a determined expression that is both fierce and intimidating. The bright polychrome that covers this sculpture is remarkably intact, including his spectacular flowered chest. Although this work was supposed to frighten away intruders, the masterfully delicate sculpting and gorgeous colors prove far more attractive than repelling.