This fragment was likely part of 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 one. Terracotta warrior figures, such as this fragment, were originally placed at each side of the entrance of the tomb gate, which was located at the end of a long underground ramp and used to expel evil spirits and to protect the deceased resting peacefully. Their fierceness as warriors and guardians is symbolically expressed though balancing on a reclining bull. Zhenmuyong or Lokapalas statues were usually portrayed with ferocious foreign facial and anatomical features: to ensure the best protection for the deceased, such statuettes were modelled to represent the powerful foreigners that Tang Dynasty often have to battled with.
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