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Glazed earthenware, sancai (three-color) ware
Overall: 88.9 x 41 x 50.8 cm (35 x 16 1/8 x 20 in.)
Gift of various donors to the department of Asian Art (by exchange) 2000.118.2
Cobalt blue glaze used on the head and chest was imported from the Middle East.
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, this one sports a human face with huge protruding ears and a short horn surrounded by fiery, twisting hair; the other has an animal face and a pair of antlers growing above its eyebrows. Their many elongated spikes heighten the fearful intensity.
Before tomb sculptures were placed in the tomb, they were carried through the streets in a funerary procession. Funerary gifts provided the deceased with means for the afterlife. They were also an expression of filial piety and demonstrated the wealth and power of the descendants.
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