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Armored Guardian King (Tianwang) Trampling Demon

A work made of earthenware with three-color (sancai) lead glazes.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

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  • A work made of earthenware with three-color (sancai) lead glazes.


Tang dynasty (618–907), first half of 8th century



About this artwork

This clay figure depicting the evil-quelling guardian king is one of a pair. Images of such guardian kings, or Tianwang, have appeared both in and beyond China. In Indian mythology, these deities were believed to watch over the four directional quarters of the universe. Devotees of Buddhism adopted and popularized guardian kings throughout Central and East Asia. In Tang-dynasty China, images of these guardian kings, seen as embodiments of cosmic power, were installed to defend both secular and religious sites. Monumental images of stone or wood were created for Buddhist temples. Smaller examples like this one were made of clay and buried in tombs to protect the deceased.


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Arts of Asia


Armored Guardian King (Tianwang) Trampling Demon


China (Artist's nationality:)

Date  Dates are not always precisely known, but the Art Institute strives to present this information as consistently and legibly as possible. Dates may be represented as a range that spans decades, centuries, dynasties, or periods and may include qualifiers such as c. (circa) or BCE.

701 CE–750 CE


Earthenware with three-color (sancai) lead glazes


H.: 94 cm (37 in.)

Credit Line

Bequest of Joseph Winterbotham

Reference Number


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Extended information about this artwork

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