Pair of stone guardian figures
From north-east China
Late Ming - early Qing dynasty, 17th century AD
Part of a 'spirit road'
These stone guardian figures would have been part of a group lined up in two rows in front of the tomb of an important person. The practice of building 'spirit roads' goes back to the Han dynasty (206 BC-AD 220). They usually included pairs of civil and military officials, foreign envoys and various animals (as at the famous Ming Tombs outside Beijing).
Stone officials like these were always carved realistically and reflected contemporary and local conditions. This pair probably represent local officials who came from an area of north-eastern China, which included many people of Korean origin. Their costume, with a design of cranes and clouds, is Chinese, but their features, and the design of the document boxes they carry, are Korean.