Pairs of figures of this type were placed in the entry corridor of tombs, along with pairs of officials and pairs of earth spirits, as evidenced by the location of such figures in the previously undisturbed Tang dynasty tomb of General An Pu discovered at Longmen, Luoyang. See R.L. Thorp, Son of Heaven: Imperial Art of China, Seattle, 1988, pp. 199-205.
A painted pottery lokapala similar to the present figure, elaborately armored and of comparable size (71.1 cm.), is in the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, Kansas City, and is illustrated in The Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art: A Handbook of the Collection, Hudson Hills Press, New York, 1993, p. 293.
The result of Oxford thermoluminescence test no. 666f5 is consistent with the dating of this lot.