A painted grey pottery figure of an Earth spirit, Northern Wei dynasty, 4th-6th century

Lot 1160. A painted grey pottery figure of an Earth spirit, Northern Wei dynasty, 4th-6th century; Earth spirit 10 5/8 in. (27 cm.) high, two-headed creature 9 in. (23 cm.) long. Estimate USD 6,000 - USD 8,000. Price realised USD 15,000© Christie's Images Ltd 2013

The mythical beast, with leonine head, taloned feet, spikey wings and three flame-like projections rising from the back, is shown seated on a U-shaped base as it opens its mouth in a warning roar. The dark grey body has traces of pigment. Together with a grey pottery two-headed mythical creature, Six Dynasties period, 3rd-5th century, that is modeled with an arched serpent-like body terminating at each end in the bust of a woman supported by the forelegs of an animal.

ProvenanceTwo-headed creature: Yamanaka & Co., Inc., New York, 1943.
Both: Raymond A. Bidwell (1876-1954) Collection.
The Springfield Museums, Springfield, Massachusetts, accessioned in 1962.

LiteratureBoth: The Raymond A. Bidwell Collection of Chinese Bronzes and Ceramics, Museum of Fine Arts, Springfield, Massachusetts, 1965, pp. 55 and 54, respectively.

Exhibited: Two-headed creature: Yamanaka & Co., Inc., New York, Collection of Chinese and Other Far Eastern Art, 1943, no. 447.

Oxford Authentication Thermoluminescence test no. C112k73 is consistent with the dating of the grey pottery two-headed creature.

Christie's. Fine Chinese Ceramics and Works of ArtNew York21 - 22 March 2013.