Artist unknown (Chinese, 7th - 10th century),
, Tang Dynasty (618-907)
glazed earthenware, 29 ½ x 9 ½ x 13 in.; 74.93 x 24.13 x 33.02 cm
Gift of Anunt Hengtrakul, 2005.1.2
These tomb guardians, or zhenmushou, have also been called chimera, guaishou (strange animal), or tianlu (heavenly deer). , Ceramic versions of this composite beast begin to appear inside tombs during the Six Dynasties period, often in pairs, with one having a human face and the other that of an animal, usually a lion.
The pointed horns and spiky flanges along their backs indicate their supernatural power. Often endowed with benevolent expressions initially, during the Sui and Tang periods, zhenmushou became increasingly dramatic and fearsome, heightening their power to ward off evil spirtis. Bixie (Dispeller of Evil) is usually portrayed with two horns; it's companion, Tianlu (Heavenly Deer), with one.