This is a marble bust of a Buddhist guardian
deity Lokapala, a heavenly warrior who
protects Buddhist doctrines. The figure has
a wrathful face, wearing elaborate helmet
and armor, the shoulder guards protecting
his broad shoulders. Regrettably, its
missing arms and weapon has deprived us
the opportunity to identify it precisely since
essential iconographic features are absent.
The lokapalas are protectors of Buddhist
doctrines. Wielding the power to subdue evil
and demons, they maintain a wrathful
outlook to showcase their might. The most
prominent ones are the four celestial
guardians of the four directions.
This sculpture is coherent with the typical
Tang style, particularly when compared to
their Sancai and terracotta forms. It is
possible that the sculpture was designated
to guard an entrance of an important ritual
site. The carving is nicely executed,
showcasing extraordinary craftsmanship.