Region: North China Collection: Mr. and Mrs. John D. Rockefeller 3rd Collection of Asian Art Accession: 1979.111 Period: Western Han period (206 B.C.E. - C.E. 9) Materials: Gilt bronze Dimensions:
The Han fascination with the supernatural gave rise to numerous auspicious mythical animals, some of which survived in the popular imagination until later times. The bixie ("averter of evil") is a winged feline creature with two horns believed to appear during eras of good government. Figures of winged felines had appeared in China as early as the 5th century B.C.E. and probably represent a borrowing from Western Asia where they had long been popular, but the addition of horns seems to have been a Chinese innovation. Figures of bixie range from small gilt bronzes and jades to monumental stone figures guarding tombs. The convincing realism and sense of movement of this piece are typical of Han versions. However, the somewhat slack casting and the uneven quality of the gilding suggest a later date, possibly during the Song (960-1279) or Ming (1368-1644) periods.