A sancai and predominantly blue glazed earthenware Lokapala
Tang Dynasty, 8th century, China
唐代, 8世紀, 中國
Height: 76 cm, 29.8 inches; Width: 29cm, 11.4 inches
高: 76釐米, 寬: 29釐米
The figure stands with puffed out chest on a rockwork base trampling a prostrate demon, his right leg raised while stepping on the demons head, his left leg straight standing on his stomach. The guardians swaggering pose is enhanced by the right hand held out at chest height which would once have gripped a sword, the left hand placed dashingly on his hip, the typically unglazed helmeted head turned to his left powerfully modelled with thick set neck and bulging eyes. His elaborate multi layered armour is embellished with stylized dragon’s head epaulets at each shoulder, an undergarment billowing out from beneath at knee height, above strapped boots, all splashed in unusually generous amounts of the rare blue glaze, as well as amber, green and straw glazes.
The figure represents one of the guardians of the four quarters of the universe and would have been installed within a tomb for its protection along with tomb guardian beasts or ‘earth spirits’. This figure is a sculptural tour de force clearly demonstrating the mastery of this art form achieved by the early 8th century in China.
‘The Exhibition of Chinese Pottery Figures of Dynasties’, Tokyo, 1984, no. 84. Mayuyama, Seventy Years, Tokyo, 1976, vol. I, pl. 209.