Armored Guardian (Tomb Figure)

A work made of buff earthenware with polychromy and gilding.
CC0 Public Domain Designation

Image actions

  • A work made of buff earthenware with polychromy and gilding.

Date:

Tang dynasty (A.D. 618–906), late 7th/early 8th century

Artist:

China

About this artwork

Ceramic figures made for burial in the tombs of princes and officials vividly evoke aspects of the elite life of China’s expansive and multicultural Tang dynasty (618-907). This armored guardian of haughty, impenetrable expression stands on a rocky plinth and was probably stationed close to the burial chamber to repel potential evil. One hand turns down in a clenched fist and the other turns upward with an outstretched finger, suggesting that both hands once brandished a weapon, now lost. His multilayered parade armor combines a helmet with upturned earflaps; neck and shoulder guards; scalloped breast and backplates secured by knotted ropes over a tunic with pleated hem; flared elbow cuffs over long, tight sleeves; and protective leggings under a sweeping skirt. The elements of this elaborate uniform were meticulously modeled in clay before firing and richly embellished with colors and gold pigment afterward.
Because these so-called "cold pigments" are more vulnerable to deterioration than fired glazes, only traces of the most detailed patterns survive. These combine curled tendrils and scalloped floral scrolls on the armor, giving elegantly decorative flourishes to the armor of this impassive figure.
Unlike most Tang figures that were formed in molds, this guardian appears to have been primarily hand-modeled, probably from coils of clay. It has survived remarkably intact; examination by museum conservators revealed only minimal restoration.

On View

Asian Art, Gallery 105

Title

Armored Guardian (Tomb Figure)

Origin

China

Date

675 AD–725 AD

Medium

Buff earthenware with polychromy and gilding

Dimensions

96.5 cm (38 in.)

Credit Line

Gift of Russell Tyson

Reference Number

1943.1139

Extended information about this artwork

Object information is a work in progress and may be updated as new research findings emerge. To help improve this record, please email .

Share

Sign up for our enewsletter to receive updates.

Learn more

Image actions

Share