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Tomb guardian

Tomb guardian

  • Place of origin:

    China (made)

  • Date:

    700-750 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Earthenware with lead glaze

  • Credit Line:

    Purchased with Art Fund support, the Vallentin Bequest, Sir Percival David and the Universities China Committee

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    China, Room 44, The T.T. Tsui Gallery, case 18

Tomb guardians were used to deter any evil spirits that tried to enter the tomb. Modelled on the Buddhist ‘Heavenly Kings’ (tian wang), these figures were originally used in pairs. This one stands on an ox, with a large bird raising its wings on the top of his head.

Place of Origin

China (made)


700-750 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Earthenware with lead glaze


Height: 99 cm

Descriptive line

Earthenware figure of a 'heavenly king' or tian wang decorated with coloured lead glazes, China, 8th century.

Labels and date

700–50, Tang dynasty
Tomb guardians were usually placed in pairs at tomb
entrances to deter evil spirits that might try to enter.
They were modelled on the Buddhist ‘Heavenly Kings’
(tian wang). This one stands on an ox, with a large bird
with raised wings on the top of his head.
Earthenware with three-coloured (sancai) glaze
Given by Mrs Elsa Gotthilf in honour of her husband Dr Willy Gotthilf
Museum no. C.48-1955 [28/03/2012]




East Asia Collection

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