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HOME : Chinese Art : Tang Lokapalas : Pair of Tang Dynasty Polychrome Lokapala Warriors
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Pair of Tang Dynasty Polychrome Lokapala Warriors - LSO.40
Origin: China
Circa: 618 AD to 906 AD
Dimensions: 19.5" (49.5cm) high
Collection: Chinese Art
Medium: Terracotta

Additional Information: priced individually 36,000.00 pounds

Location: Great Britain
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This pair of polychrome Lokapala sculptures is an exceptional example of the warrior and guardian images placed in the tombs of high-ranking members of the T’ang Dynasty. As well as being exquisitely modelled, the figures are highly decorated and painted with a range of organic pigments that have survived extremely well. The first figure (LSO.40.1) wears an ornate single-disc headdress and a highly decorated high-collared tunic with zoomorphic shoulder flares and large, wide sleeves. He is standing in heroic pose (c. 52 cm tall) upon the recumbent and docile body of an ox. The tunic and details are predominantly painted, including organic and floral deigns and patterns. The face is extremely fine, with good colouring and detailed point work of the features and facial hair. The second figure (LSO.40.2) has a larger, three-pointed headdress with similar clothing and zoomorphic shoulder flares, with the same large sleeves. He stands c. 50 cm tall. The animal upon which he stands is probably a deer, which has been exquisitely observed and modelled. Surface detail is both sculptural and painted, with considerable attention being paid to the texture and surface of the fabric, as well as the floral paintwork. The face is extremely finely painted, with individual swirls of hair and other features picked out in minute detail. The most extraordinary aspect of these remarkable statues is their almost perfect preservation. Whereas Lokapala statues are not uncommon in the graves of social notables, the vast majority have suffered considerable taphonomic damage through burial, notably to the fragile organic pigments with which the sculptures were usually painted. These museum- quality specimens are a spectacular exception. Warrior figures are one of the numerous figure types included in the grave offerings of deceased social luminaries throughout this period. Entire retinues of ceramic figures were incorporated into the grave furniture, including animals, entertainers, musicians and guardians. According to one Chinese tradition explaining their origin, the emperor Taizong, when ill, was threatened by ghosts outside his room screeching and throwing bricks and tiles. When General Jin Shubao (Chin Shu-pao) and a fellow officer came to stand guard the activity of the ghosts ceased. The grateful emperor had portraits of the two men hung on either side of his palace gates, and thereafter their images became widespread as door-gods. (LSO 40.1 AND 40.2) - (LSO.40)


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