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Lokhapala on a Recumbent Bull

Among the exotic artistic conventions introduced to China via the Silk Road was the representation of divine Buddhist guardian figures dressed in armor and posed atop dwarves or buffalo demons in fierce warrior stances. In the mid-seventh century in the early Tang dynasty, ceramic images of these fierce deities, known as the Four Lokhapalas, or Heavenly Kings, supplanted traditional tomb guardian warrior figures. This Lokhapala and the earthenware horse displayed here, both important emblems of the tomb occupant's wealth and social status, are decorated with a low-fire lead glaze called a sancai, or "three-color," glaze. This brightly colored glaze was used on many Tang burial objects, which were displayed as part of a funeral ceremony before being placed in the tomb.

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