Tomb guardians in the form of composite beasts first begin to appear in the Six Dynasties period, at the same time that Buddhist images with guardian lions are first seen and produced in China. They usually appear in pairs, one with a human head and the other with a lion head. Their supernatural powers, indicated by antlers, spiky flanges and flames enable them to confront evil spirits and to protect any area within their gaze.
A similarly well-modeled example was sold in these rooms, 27 November 1991, lot 296.
The result of Oxford thermoluminescence test no. 766j46 is consistent with the dating of this lot.