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A Chinese Sancai-Glazed Guardian Lokapala Figure, Tang Dynasty, 618-907 AD

A formidable pottery Lokapala, with fierce facial expression, his unglazed head sporting a tall chignon and mustache, the powerful body wearing a short tunic, tight-fitting trousers and long boots, with elaborately layered armor that features animal head mounts at the shoulder.  He stands upon a recumbent bull, one fisted hand held high, on a reticulated rocky plinth, the surfaces colored with splashes of green, amber and colorless enamels.

Lokapalas, or Buddhist Heavenly Kings, are heavenly protectors from evil, guardians of the four cardinal directions,  that were placed inside Chinese tombs and temples at the four cardinal points.  Portrayed as powerful military figures, they were once buried with a Chinese king or nobleman in order to protect the spirit of the dead from evil forces.  Elaborately decorated tombs were a sign of China's wealth and prosperity during the Tang dynasty so these figures were shown wearing decorative armor rather than field armor to indicate the high rank and status of the owner.    

Condition:  The surface with glaze flaking, small nicks and wear as expected; professionally rejoined at waist, arm and neck with minor cosmetic overpainting.  Presents beautifully, a very good example.

Dimensions: height:  17 inches (43.2 cm)

Provenance: Ezekiel Schloss private collection, New York, acquired in the late 1960's.  Political cartoonist for the New York Times, New Republic and France-Amerique, art director and later editor of a magazine for Jewish children, World Over, Ezekiel Schloss was also considered the foremost expert on Chinese tomb sculpture, publishing the two volume "Ancient Chinese Ceramic Sculpture from the Han to the T'Ang Dynasty" in 1977 and curating an exhibition of tomb sculpture for the opening of the Temple of Heaven at Disney's Epcot Center in Orlando, Fl in 1982.  Focusing exclusively on Chinese art since the 1960’s, the Schloss collection contains many pieces of historical importance. In 1984, an auction of some of the pieces collected by Schloss and his wife, Lillian, brought in about $2 million at auction at an international Auction house.

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