The Cleveland Museum of Art

Collection Online as of August 25, 2016

Tomb Guardian with Animal Head, early 700s

glazed earthenware, sancai (three-color) ware, Overall: 92.30 x 43.80 x 41.90 cm (36 5/16 x 17 3/16 x 16 7/16 inches). Gift of various donors to the department of Asian Art (by exchange) 2000.118.1

With their fierce expressions and exaggerated physical features, these two fantastic guardian creatures were intended to guard the entrance to a tomb, warding off evil as well as keeping the soul of the deceased from wandering.

Known as "earth spirits" or qitou, they are markedly different in appearance: one has an animal face and a pair of antlers growing above its eyebrows; the other sports a human face with huge protruding ears and a short horn surrounded by fiery, twisting hair. Their many elongated spikes heighten the fearful intensity.

Detail Views