China, probably from Xi'an, Tang Dynasty (618-907) / Tomb Guardian with Animal Head / late 7th or early 8th centuryChina, probably from Xi'an, Tang Dynasty (618-907)
Tomb Guardian with Animal Head
late 7th or early 8th century

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Creator Nationality: Asian; Far East Asian; Chinese
Creator Name-CRT: China, probably from Xi'an, Tang Dynasty (618-907)
Title: Tomb Guardian with Animal Head
Title Type: Primary
View: Full View
Creation Start Date: 675
Creation End Date: 725
Creation Date: late 7th or early 8th century
Creation Place: probably from Xi'an
Object Type: Decorative Arts and Utilitarian Objects
Classification Term: Ceramic
Materials and Techniques: ceramic; sancai ware (three color glazes)
Dimensions: Overall: 92.3cm x 43.8cm x 41.9cm
AMICA Contributor: The Cleveland Museum of Art
Owner Location: Cleveland, Ohio, USA
ID Number: 2000.118.1
Credit Line: Gift of various donors to the department of Asian Art (by exchange)
Style or Period: Tang Dynasty (618-907)
Context: Visually stunning, these fierce zhenmoushou (tomb guardians) are covered with the "three color glaze" of sancai ceramics, with amber, green and white as the dominant hues. Here, however, a fourth,and more precious color appears: blue, indicating the princely status of the individual who was to receive protection from this pair.Like other tomb guardians, these are animal-shaped, are posed crouching over their pedestals, and display dorsal fins on their backs. Also typical of such tomb guardians, they are not identical twins. One sports an animal head, resembling a snarling wolf, and the other a human face, with huge, protruding leaf-like ears. The former also has a pair of tall antlers and is surrounded by spikes suggesting flames. Its body is taut and lean, and its limbs end with sharp talons. Its companion has bulging, glaring eyes and jaws tightened in anger. It also has hoofs instead of claws. A series of feathers fan out from its body, resembling a peacock's display of plumage.In ceramic art, sancai ware began to appear during the early 600s ad and became widespread over the course of the century. These sculptures were used in a funerary context, most likely within a royal tomb, where they protected the deceased from evil irits. This is the museum's first acquisition of a tomb guardian pair.
Link to Work: CMA_.2000.118.2
AMICA ID: CMA_.2000.118.1
AMICA Library Year: 2001
Media Metadata Rights: Copyright, The Cleveland Museum of Art

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