T'ang Large Sancai-Glazed Terracotta Sculpture of a Lokapala - H.702 - For Sale

T'ang Large Sancai-Glazed Terracotta Sculpture of a Lokapala - H.702
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The T’ang Dynasty was an era of unrivalled wealth and luxury. The country was successfully reunified and the borders were expanded, pushing Chinese influence into new lands. Confucianism became a semi-religious instrument of the state; yet Buddhism continued to flourish, spreading into Korea and Japan. The arts reached new levels of sophistication. Poetry and literature flourished under the enlightened rulers. The Silk Road brought fortunes into China. Precious treasures were imported on the backs of camels from far away lands and bartered for Chinese silk, medicinal herbs, and pungent spices. T’ang China was a multicultural empire where foreign merchants from across Central Asia and the Middle East settled in the urban centers, foremost among them the thriving capital of Chang’an (modern X’ian), a bustling cosmopolitan center of over two million inhabitants. Foreign traders lived next to native artisans and both thrived. New ideas and exotic artistic forms followed alongside. The T’ang Dynasty was a cultural renaissance where many of the forms and objects we now associate with China were first created. Moreover, this period represents one of the greatest cultural outpourings in human history.Known as Lokapala and as the Devaraja, or Celestial King, this guardian figure is a more general type of Chinese art known as mingqi. Mingqi were any of a variety of objects specifically created for interment in the tombs of elite individuals in order to provide for the afterlife. This guardian was most likely interred, always in pairs with a companion, in order to ward off potential tomb robbers or perhaps evil spirits in the next world that might try to infiltrate the tomb. Traditionally, this fierce, armored guardian stands upon a recumbent ox, symbolic of the Celestial King’s authority; however, in this example, the guardian tramples on a fully modeled demon, complete with webbed feet and hands, who bites on the guardian’s foot. Originally, this type of figure had its origins in Buddhist philosophy; however, over the ages, as society became more secularized, they began to fulfill the more generic role of tomb guardians. As society evolved, these figures lost their religious significance and became symbolic of the military might that protected the wealth of the T’ang from the nomadic barbarian invaders of the North.Clearly, this imposing figure warded away the forces of evil and protected the deceased throughout eternity. Although this work was never meant to be viewed by the living, its refined artistry and sophisticated beauty amazes us. His face is finely modeled. Red paint highlights his lips while remnants of black lines detailing his beard are visible as well. Especially pleasing is the delicate modeling of the stylized zoomorphic armor that decorated his shoulders. Appearing like some exotic sea creature with undulating ears and arched trunk, the guardian’s arms seems to emerge from the mouths of these creatures. While this Celestial King is supposed to frighten us with his stern glare and aggressive posture, originally he would have brandished a wooden spear or sword that has vanished over the ages, we are instead drawn to his overwhelming beauty and history. - (H.702)

Ancient Asian
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Barakat Gallery
405 North Rodeo Drive
Beverly Hills
Contact Details :
Email : barakat@barakatgallery.com
Phone : 310.859.8408

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