SEATED FIGURE OF A LOKAPALA
Earthenware with pigments
Tang Dynasty (618 – 907)
Height: 12 inches (30.5 cm)
The Lokapala sits in an almost casual manner whilst suppressing a demon under his right knee. He extends one arm forwards with the other resting comfortably on his thigh. He wears full armour over a longer tunic that is tied round and knotted at the neck and head-wear with turned up flaps. The face is of typical stern countenance with bulging ewes, broad flared nostrils and open mouth. The demon meanwhile bears an expression of pained defeat.
Lokapala came from Buddhist iconography and replaced the fangxiang (evil-averting entities) placed in the four corners of Han Dynasty tombs. They are warrior figures that guard tombs and stand on various kinds of demon to symbolise the victory of Buddhism over its enemies. The sculptural quality is a fair indicator of the level of skill of the studio.
Although we can find no other pottery example of this model there is a similar gilt bronze model in the Metropolitan Museum of Art New York.