This powerfully carved structural element most likely served as the front support of a mortuary bed (guanchuang) of the type associated with the tombs of aristocrats and other high-ranking individuals in northern and northwestern China from the fifth to the seventh century. A mortuary bed of approximately the same size and decorated in low relief with similar mythical beasts and with similar wave decoration around the lower edges is illustrated by L. Swergold et al., Treasures Rediscovered: Chinese Stone Sculptures from the Sackler Collections at Columbia University, New York, 2008, pp. 92-5, no. 20. A line drawing of a complete mortuary bed is illustrated on p. 94, fig. 56. Also illustrated, p. 94, fig. 57, is a detail of a complete early 6th-century mortuary bed with very similar decoration which was found in Luoyang and is now in the Luoyang Stone-Carving Gallery in the compound of the Guanlin Temple.
Other comparable mortuary beds of this approximate date include one formerly in the collection of Avery Brundage and now preserved in the Asian Art Museum of San Francisco, illustrated by d'Argencé, Chinese, Korean and Japanese Sculpture in the Avery Brundage Collection, Tokyo, 1974, pp. 120-21, no. 50; one in the Royal Ontario Museum illustrated in Homage to Heaven, Homage to Earth, Chinese Treasures of the Royal Ontario Museum, Toronto, 1992, p. 162, no. 91; and the example included in the exhibition, Early Dynastic China: Works of Art from Shang to Song, J.J. Lally & Co., New York, 26 March - 26 April 1996, no. 12.