An image of Guardian figure

Unknown Artist

Guardian figure

Other titles:
Guardian figure of Wei To
Not on display
Further information

This commanding gilt bronze figure is Wei To, a military Bodhisattva who protects the Buddhist religion and whose image is usually placed in the first hall of a Buddhist monastery. Dressed as a Chinese warrior in the elaborate armour worn by military heroes, and originally holding a sceptre-shaped assault weapon (now missing), this figure reportedly came from the Palace of Ten Thousand Years outside Beijing. The lion's headcap emphasises the uncontrollable ferocity of Wei To. The lion is not native to China, but appears in Buddhism as the defender of law and protector of sacred buildings. The Tang dynasty (618-906) is usually credited as the golden age of Chinese Buddhist sculpture because of the decline of Buddhism after the great persecution of 845 and the accompanying destruction of many images. However, Buddhist figures continued to be made, and Ming figures are distinguished by the technical skill of their casting in which every detail is sharp and vigorous.

'Asian Art', AGNSW Collections, 1994, pg. 204.

Place of origin
China: Ming dynasty 1368–1644
bronze coated with gold
140.0 x 60.5 x 50.0 cm
Signature & date

Not signed. Not dated.

Gift of Captain Francis Hixson 1905
Accession number