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HOME : Chinese Art : Masterpieces of Chinese Art : T'ang Large Sancai-Glazed Terracotta Sculpture of a Lokapala
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T'ang Large Sancai-Glazed Terracotta Sculpture of a Lokapala - H.701
Origin: China
Circa: 618 AD to 906 AD
Dimensions: 56" (142.2cm) high
Collection: Chinese
Medium: Glazed Terracotta

Location: Great Britain
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Known as Lokapala and as the Devaraja, or Celestial King, this guardian figure is a type of Chinese art known as mingqi and dates from 618 to 906 AD from Tang Dynasty. Mingqi is a general term for a type of Chinese art that refers to objects specifically created for interment in the tombs of elite individuals in order to provide for their afterlife. Typically, Chinese spirit guardians come in pairs and stood guard over the tombs to ward off any evil- sprits or robbers. Clearly, these imposing figures warded away the forces of evil and protected the deceased throughout eternity. The refined artistry and sophisticated beauty of Mingqi still continues to amaze art lovers and collectors alike. It is with reverence that these items are displayed and appreciated. Traditionally, this fierce, armored guardian stood upon a recumbent ox, symbolic of the Celestial King’s authority; however, in this example, the guardian tramples on a fully modeled demon that is attempting to bite the guardian’s foot. The demon has even been sculpted to webfeet and hands. His face is finely modeled. Red paint highlights his lips while remnants of black lines detail his beard. Especially pleasing is the delicate modeling of the stylized zoomorphic armor that decorates his shoulders. Appearing like some exotic sea creature with undulating ears and arched trunk, the guardian’s arms appears to emerge from the mouths of these creatures. Originally, this type of figure had its origins in Buddhist philosophy; however, over the ages, as society became more secularized, they began to fulfill the more generic role of tomb guardians. And as society evolved, these figures lost their religious significance and became symbolic of the military might that protected the wealth of the Tang from the nomadic barbarian invaders of the North- (H.701) - (H.701)


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