Feline-Headed Guardian Beast (Zhenmushou)
Tang dynasty (618-907 C.E.)
earthenware with three-colored (sancai) glaze and pigment
14 x 5.5 x 4.75 inches
This fierce feline-headed guardian beast (zhenmushou) would have stood by other matching figures (typically as many as five sets of two) at the entrance of a tomb. Its position there constituted a type of psychological warfare and was intended to ward off evil and danger. The zhenmushou's image also adorned saddlebags as a precaution, say against marauding bandits along the Silk Routes. The figure's surfaces showcase the popular sancai glazing technique. Three colors of glaze-green, amber, and cream-were applied and purposely allowed to drip. The antler-like horns were painted after firing, but the paint has since worn away.
Prodan, pp. 62-63
--K. Johnson Bowles, 2006, Reflecting Centuries of Beauty: The Rowe Collection of Chinese Art