Well-preserved, lavishly painted, and gold-adorned marble warriors from China
Two pieces of painted white marble reliefs, dating back to the Five Dynasties (907-960), depict two august warriors safeguarding the tomb of Wang Chuzhi in North China’s Hebei province. They’re wearing armor and holding swords, with a dragon and a phoenix on their heads and an ox and deer crouching beneath their feet. What makes them unique is that both of them have been lavishly painted. Having parts of their armor applied with gold pigment suggests the tomb owner’s eminent status.
Having been stolen from the tomb of Wang Chuzhi, a high-ranking military officer, in Quyang county, Hebei province, in 1994, the two relief carvings were once lost overseas. One entered Robert Hatfield Ellsworth’s private collection, and the other appeared in Christie’s auction catalog in 2000. Ellsworth later donated his collection to China, and Christie’s item was also repatriated. They have been in the permanent collection of the National Museum of China since 2001.