Tomb guardians in the form of composite beasts first begin to appear during the Six Dynasties period, at the same time that Buddhist images with guardian lions are first seen and produced in China. They usually occur 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 calmly confront evil spirits and protect any precincts within their gaze.
An earth spirit similarly decorated with boldly painted designs rendered in this same palette of mint-green, black, orange and white was sold in our Los Angeles rooms, 7 May 1999, lot 16.
The result of Oxford Authentication Ltd. thermoluminescence test no. C100u99 is consistent with the dating of this lot.