Height: 20 3/4 inches, 53 cm
Width: 18 inches, 46 cm

Painted pottery figure of a Bactrian camel and rider

China, Tang dynasty, 618-907

A painted pottery camel finely modelled with its head raised tall and slightly turned to the left with a strong neck and protruding eyes. The body is well defined with powerful legs, curved tail and skilfully carved lines depicting the fur on the neck and upper front legs. A moulded saddle bag hangs between its humps and is surmounted by a Central Asian trader, who is seated in a relaxed posture with his hands originally holding the reins. The saddle is applied with bags, water jars and dead hares on each side.

During the early phase of the Tang dynasty, Chinese potters created animal and figures for burials with an unprecedented degree of details and expressivity. Highly refined, large figures such as the present example were also markers of cultural and commercial exchange with Central Asia, as the rider’s attire may suggest. A similar, but even larger example with a removable rider is illustrated in Forms of Pleasure: Chinese Ceramics from Burial to Daily Life.[1]

Oxford Thermoluminecense certificate C205j97

  1. Capelo, F. et al. Forms of Pleasure: Chinese Ceramics from Burial to Daily Life, 2009, pl. 14, pp 56-57