This pair of Tang painted terracotta tomb guardians stand in erect position to protect their deceased lord. They wear armor consisting of shoulder guards with curved tips and chest plates with a decorative boss adorning the center of each. On their heads are spiked helmets with dramatically upturned rims. They stand in mirror-image postures, each holding one arm bent and raised slightly as if to signal their preparedness for battle while the other arm is placed staunchly on their hip. Originally, each would have been accompanied with weapons, most likely swords or spears that were likely made from a less durable material such as wood.
They bare resemblance to the gods known as Lokapalas, deities who served as protectors of Buddhist temples. When they were assimilated into Chinese ideology their role changed to accompany the dead into the afterlife. Neither warrior in this pair stands in the traditional stance of the Lokapala which typically would be found subduing a demon or triumphing over a recumbent beast. Although these figures are slightly different, we can assume their role in the afterlife would have been the same. Even if such guardians were intended to protect the tomb from evil spirits, they do not repel us. In fact, we marvel at their compelling history, their remarkable state of preservation, and their refined artistry, masterfully embodying strength and fortitude that has endured the centuries.