Heavenly King (Lokapala)

Made for a tomb

Artist/maker unknown, Chinese

Geography:
Made in Henan Province, China, Asia

Period:
Tang Dynasty (618-907)

Date:
8th century

Medium:
Earthenware with sancai (tricolor) glaze and traces of painted decoration on head

Dimensions:
39 1/8 x 15 3/4 inches (99.3 x 40 cm)

Curatorial Department:
East Asian Art

Object Location:

* Gallery 241, Asian Art, second floor

Accession Number:
1923-21-24

Credit Line:
Gift of Charles H. Ludington from the George Crofts Collection, 1923

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Label:
In Buddhist tradition, lokapāla are heavenly kings who protect the four cardinal directions of the universe. In China, they came to be adopted in Tang dynasty funerary art as important guardians. Wearing an elaborate headdress that seems to represent the phoenix, this figure assumes a triumphant pose while standing atop a recumbent bull. His left arm is held up with his hand half-clenched, suggesting he possibly once held a weapon. His intricate armor is decorated with the vibrant sancai glaze, while his head is intentionally left unglazed.


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