Chinese, Tang Dynasty (618 AD to 906 AD) A pair of semi-human earth spirit figures seated on their haunches with cloven hooves planted firmly on the base. Both wearing conical mandarin style hats, their bearded face peering upward with a placid facial expression.Some traces of pigment to the bodies. The earth spirits have been believed to protect the living by keeping the spirits of the dead from inappropriately roaming the world outside the tomb.
Measure: Height 13.5 inches x width: 6.5 inches x depth 6.5 inches.
Condition: Excellent. They appear to be no repairs or damage to these figures. Small encrusted flake missing on beard of one figure.
Provenance: From the Private Collection of Morton & Kathleen Sachs of Louisville, Kentucky, purchased from TK Asian Antiquities (Williamsburg, VA) in 2000.
The inclusion of fantastic animal guardians as part of the retinue of tomb figures began in the Northern Wei dynasty (A.D. 386–534) and continued into the Tang dynasty. Also called earth spirits, or zhenmushou (grave-quelling beasts), these guardians took the form of fantastic hybrid creatures composed of various animal and sometimes human elements and were placed in the tomb in pairs to ward off any malevolent beings who threatened to intrude.