Oct 18, 2012
Jul 20, 2010
Oct 18, 2012
Oct 18, 2012
Oct 18, 2012
Oct 18, 2012
Oct 18, 2012
Oct 18, 2012

Tomb Guardian with Animal Head

Tomb Guardian with Animal Head


early 700s

Part of a set. See all set records

Glazed earthenware, sancai (three-color) ware

Overall: 92.3 x 43.8 x 41.9 cm (36 5/16 x 17 1/4 x 16 1/2 in.)

Gift of various donors to the department of Asian Art (by exchange) 2000.118.1

Did you know?

Sancai (three-color) glazes in green, amber, and transparent white, plus expensive cobalt blue glaze, show the high social status of the tomb’s occupant.


With their fierce expressions and exaggerated physical features, 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 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.

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.


Earth Spirits
Conservation Examination
Tomb Guardians
Tomb Guardians - Chinese language version
See also

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