A blue and sancai-glazed pottery figure of a lokapala

The figure is well modelled trampling on a demon atop low flat-topped rockwork. He wears characteristic ‘cord and plaque’ armour with twin breast plates, secured with a cord, and a sash about the waist. One arm is raised triumphantly, the other is placed on the hip. The demon, with hair standing on end and eyes bulging, is squashed beneath the lokapala’s greaved and booted feet. The figures and the top of the rockwork are applied with a rich sancai glaze with liberal extra use of blue, leaving the head, with expressive features and hair drawn up into a topknot, unglazed but with some cold pigment in red and black to highlight the lips and brows.

It is rare to find a sancai-glazed figure of a lokapala of these small proportions made to such a high standard, both in the modelling and glaze application.

A full-size version, showing the same iconography and also with the addition of blue to the standard sancai palette, excavated in 1959 from Zhongbu village in the suburbs of Xi’an, is in the collection of the Shaanxi History Museum.

Dimensions: Height: 25 cm, 9 ⅞ inches

Date: Tang dynasty (618-906), 8th century

Stock No. 1069

Price: On Request