Lot 99. A rare pair of marble seated lions, Tang dynasty (618-906); 20.1cm., 7 7/8 in. Estimate 40,000 - 60,000 GBP. Lot sold 50,000 GBP. © Sotheby's.

each powerfully carved figure seated on its haunches with its muscular front paws firmly planted on the rectangular base, the head facing forward with mouth open in a roar showing the teeth and up-curled tongue, the ears flattened back above the long, curling mane, the smooth stone with a warm ivory patina

Provenance: Acquired in Asia during the second half of the 19th century and thence by descent

Note: Stone sculptures of lions have traditionally been a symbol of power and during the Tang Dynasty pairs of lions were placed inside tombs as guardian figures. A similarly rendered marble lion supported on a triangular plinth was sold in these rooms, 14th December 1976; one was sold at Christie’s London, 10th July 1978, lot 163; and a third lion, modelled with a curling mane and more muscular forelegs, from the collection of Miss Alice Boney, was included in the exhibition The Arts of the T’ang Dynasty. A Loan Exhibition Organised by the Los Angeles County Museum from Collections in America, The Orient and Europe, Los Angeles County Museum, Los Angeles, 1957, cat. no. 43.

Lions of this type were produced in different sizes, forms and materials; for example a smaller puddingstone seated lion, in the Metropolitan Museum of Art, New York, was included in the exhibition Chinese Buddhist Sculpture from the Wei through the T’ang Dynasties, National Museum of History, Taipei, 1983, cat. no. 32; and a slightly larger stone figure was sold in our New York rooms, 19th March 2007, lot 123.

Sotheby's. Fine Chinese Ceramics & Works of Art, London, 14 May 2014