Buddhist guardian figures, such as this extraordinary example, are typically represented in tense movement, with twisted torsos, contorted limbs, grasping hands and fierce expressions. Such figures would have been set at the four corners of a Buddhist altar to guard the four cardinal points as protectors of Buddhist Law. Compare several small gilt-bronze guardian figures dated to the Tang and Six Dynasties periods, illustrated by H. Munsterberg, Chinese Buddhist Bronzes, Tokyo, 1967, pp. 133-5, nos. 87-92, and the guardian figure wearing similar drapery to that of the present figure, illustrated in Rikucho no bijutsu (The Art of the Six Dynasties), Osaka Municipal Museum of Art, 1975, p. 36, no. 3.178.