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369 Heavenly King

China, Tang Dynasty (618 – 907 AD)
Height: 180 cm / 5'11 inch
TL-tested by Oxford Authentification Ltd, UK

天王像
中國唐代(公元618-907年)
高:180厘米
由英國牛津鑑定公司進行熱釋光年代測定

This impressive large figure of Tianwang (Heavenly King), is dressed in full multi-layered body armour, with dragon mouth sleeves. It is highly embellished with beautiful flowers in natural pigments and gold leaf. The hands are opened as if engaged in some form of martial art. He stands on two small squirming demons, showing his ability to control evil spirits. He sports a fabulous headdress in the shape of a phoenix.

The scowling features with large, bulging eyes, flared nostrils and exotic moustache, appear to belong to a foreigner, possibly a Persian mercenary. This would have been a menacing sight for the Chinese, certainly frightening enough to ward off evil spirits. Strict Tang sumptuary laws, would have meant that this unusually large figure could only have been intended for the tomb-entrance of an aristocrat or royal prince.

Comparable figures, can be found in museum collections, such as The Asian Art Museum (San Francisco). A pair excavated from the Tomb of Li Zhen, are now in the Zhoaling Museum, Shanxi. This type of figure is also found in temple complexes, such as the Dunhuang cave temples.

這尊體型巨大的天王像身著多層精美盔甲,配以龍口袖,鳳凰頭飾,外衣通體以色彩和金葉點綴絢麗花朵。雙臂打開,似乎將展示武功。他站立在兩個小惡魔身上,顯示出驅逐邪靈的能力。

他鼓出的眼珠、張開的鼻孔和奇異的鬍鬚都帶有異域特徵,原型可能是波斯僱傭兵。這一形象對於中國人來說足以嚇倒惡魔。根據嚴格的唐律,此類體型龐大的天王像只能用於貴族或王室的墓道入口。

美国舊金山的亞洲藝術博物館等一些博物館的藏品中有类似塑像。從中國陝西醴泉李震墓出土的一對天王像目前存於陝西唐昭陵博物館。這種塑像也多見於廟宇中,如敦煌石窟寺廟。

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