These figures were probably made in Shanxi province, which was one of the major tile-making centers during the Ming dynasty. According to J. Harrison-Hall, Ming Ceramics in the British Museum, London, 2001, pp. 237 - 8, large tilework figures were "made in section moulds, hand finished, and glazed in the sancai or fahua palettes of the tile-making industries", and "would have been produced in specially built small kilns". The author goes on to note that large-scale sculptures were predominantly made for religious purposes, and most would have been placed in temples. An inscription on one of the massive buddhistic lions in this sale, lot 311, shows that they were made for a large temple, which is most likely the case with the present figures. In their capacity as defender of the Buddhist law and protector of sacred buildings, lion figures were placed at the entrance to temples, shrines and sometimes private residences, while the large figures of Daoist and Buddhist deities would have been placed within the temple.
For another pair of equally large buddhistic lions dated to the late 16th century and attributed to Shanxi province, but glazed in a sancai rather than the fahua palette of the present pair, see d'Argencé, ed., Chinese, Korean and Japanese Sculpture in the Avery Brundage Collection, Japan, 1974, pp. 320 - 1, no. 171. See, also, the pair glazed predominantly in aubergine and turquoise and also dated to the 16th century sold Christie's, New York, 1 June 1990, lot 209.