These fantastic creatures belong to a group of ten ceramic figures that were buried in an elaborate tomb in China during the T'ang dynasty (A.D. 618-906), a time of relative peace and prosperity. Nearly two million taxable residents made up the great capital city at Chang'an (chahng-ahn) during the T'ang dynasty. Part of the population included people who had traveled to China from the west and north. These non-Chinese merchants, diplomats and religious ambassadors added to the sophisticated blend of cultures that characterized this period of Chinese history. Under this strong, diverse and prosperous empire, the art of China flourished. The earth spirits, like most T'ang ceramics, display the vitality, cosmopolitanism, and technical advances that characterized this period.
Little is known about the individual artists who made the earth spirits. The manufacture of T'ang ceramics was a vital industry consisting of large workshops and regulated by the Chinese government. Clearly the artists had the highest technical and artistic skill.