A sancai-glazed pottery figure of an earth spirit, Tang dynasty (618-907)

Lot 461. A sancai-glazed pottery figure of an earth spirit, Tang dynasty (618-907); H. 76 cmSold: 2,600 (Est: €2,500 - €3,500). © Nagel

The ferocious creature modeled seated on its haunches on a rockwork base, the unglazed head well articulated with bulging eyes, furrowed brows, mouth agape pulled back in a grimace, and flanked by large fan-shaped ears, spiky flames and a tall pointed horn, the body with a broad muscular chest above rigid forelegs.

Provenance: Property from the estate of Sinologist and general linguist Georg von der Gabelentz (1840-1893), former inventory of Poschwitz Castle.

Note: This 'grave-quelling' beast is one from a pair of tomb guardians - its mate would have been modeled with a lion's head like the smaller beast in this sale.

For similar examples of both types, see The Quest for Eternity: Chinese Ceramic Sculptures from the People's Republic of China (Los Angeles County Museum of Art, 1987): the lion-headed beast excavated from the tomb of Prince Zhenghuai in Qian County, Shaanxi province (706 CE), cat.no. 64, p. 131 and color plate p. 38 (90cm high); and the human-headed beast, excavated in 1959 from a tomb in Zhongbao Village, Xi'an, cat.no. 81, p. 138 and color plate p. xiv (57.5cm high) 

Nagel. Fine Asian Art I, Stuttgart, December 7, 2021