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Head of a Guardian King
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Head of a Guardian King

Description Conservation Provenance Credit
Description This stone head is Buddhist in inspiration. It is carved with bulging features, almost as if it had been kneaded out of clay. There is a patterned beard and neat mustache; the eyebrows, bridge of the nose, and cheeks all swell outward. In the Buddhist cosmological system, conceived in India, a mountain stands in the center of our world. On the middle slopes of this mountain dwell four heavenly kings, who guard the four directions. Which of the four kings this head represents is not certain, but he may be Virudhaka (in Sanskrit; Cengchang [Tseng-ch'ang] in Chinese), the regent of the south. He has been given a beard and mustache like those of the Central Asian traders found in contemporaneous tomb sculpture. Intact sculptures of Cengchang [Tseng-ch'ang] show him with one foot on the head of a demon; his raised right arm holds a lance, his left hand is on his waist. The statue from which this head came was probably part of an ensemble in one of the Buddhist cave temples of Tang [T'ang] China. It would have flanked an image of the Buddha standing at the center of the world. Ceramic images of heavenly kings were also placed in tombs as guardians; their facial features are as vigorously modeled as those of this stone head.
Date Description Narrative
Provenance Yamanaka & Co., New York; Henry Walters, Baltimore [date of acquisition unknown], by purchase; Walters Art Museum, 1931, by bequest.
Credit Acquired by Henry Walters

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7th century (T'ang)
Accession Number
18 1/2 x 10 7/16 in. (47 x 26.5 cm)
  • China (Place of Origin)
Location Within Museum
Not On View


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