Tang Dynasty Mythical Beast Group with a Bodhisattva


An exceptional moulded terracotta  figurative group, dating from the Chinese Tang Dynasty period. The funeral pottery group is composed of two mythical creatures, one carrying the other, with the top one bearing a small bodhisattva figure on its shoulder. The bottom creature is likely a Qilin, a chimeric type animal, with Dragon like features, antlers and eyes with thick eyelashes. It symbolizes good luck, protection, success and longevity. The other creature is a Diting, a divine mythical creature and the steed of bodhisattva Kṣitigarbha in Chinese Buddhism. The Diting combines features of many beasts in its body: the head of a tiger, the body of a dragon, the tail of a lion, a single horn like a unicorn and ears like a dog. A possible interpretation for its single horn is that the creature would receive information through it across the universe. In this group the Diting bears his master on its shoulder, securing him by also holding him with one of his fore legs and with the other one raised, as if holding the contents, possibly incense, of the hole on top of its head.

N.B. This item will require additional postage charges after checkout due to weight and size.

Date: Circa 618-906 AD.
Period: Tang Dynasty
Provenance: The C. Roger Moss OBE collection. The late C. Roger Moss OBE was a renowned art collector who, throughout the years, thanks to his determination and enthusiasm, was able to create an outstanding collection of artworks, most prominently from China and the Orient, but also from other cultures.
Condition: Fine, some weathering to the surface due to ageing.


SKU: CS-170 Category: Tags: ,

In Buddhism, a bodhisattva is any person who is on the path towards Buddhahood, which is the rank or condition of an “awaken one”, a Buddha. The bodhisattva Kṣitigarbha, whose name is translatable in “Earth Treasury”, “Earth Store” or “Earth Womb”, is known for his vow to take responsibility for the instruction of all beings, as well as his oath not to achieve Buddhahood until all hells are emptied. The Diting is said to be guarding the gates of hell along with his master Kṣitigarbha. This group was likely employed as a ‘mingqi’ – a burial figurine. Grave goods were an important status symbol in ancient China, so the affluent and important would be accompanied in their travels through the afterlife with numerous depictions of people, items and animals. Such terracotta figures were made for the service and entertainment of the owner, ensuring that their journey in the underworld was a happy and protected one.

To discover more about the Roger Moss Collection, visit our Provenance Collection Page.

Weight 2000 g
Dimensions H 35 cm

Pottery and Porcelain