East Asia, China, Tang Dynasty, ca. 618 to 907 CE. A charming, hollow pottery figure of a Bactrian camel wearing distinctive saddle bags in the form of monstrous masked faces. This camel was made to be a tomb figure, known as mingqi. Tang dynasty elites had underground tombs full of pottery figures designed to care for their every need in the afterlife. This figure was painted (rather than glazed, as others were), with black paint still visible around the saddle and a great deal of white and red paint visible, especially on the face. He stands on his own, his four legs attached to the integrated flat platform. The camel's head is curved back, his head up and mouth open wide. The monster masks on the saddlebags may have been designed as wards to frighten evil spirits and protect the dead. Size: 10.6" W x 12.2" H (26.9 cm x 31 cm)
The art of the Tang Dynasty was international, reflecting a world in which the Chinese court spread its influence through military conquest and trade to Central Asia, India, Persia, Africa, and southeastern Asia. In this prosperous period, Tang elites imitated the style of the Persians, wearing high boots, short tunics, and leopard skin hats. Music, sport, and dance all emulated Central Asian styles. Nothing is more representative of this cultural milieu than the figure of the Bactrian camel who, with his saddle bags, carried so many of these goods and, by extension, practices east and west along the Silk Road. Travelling west from the Tang capital, Chang'an, the Silk Road passed through the Taklamakan Desert. The Bactrian camel was vital to this transport because of its abilities - to go without water for a week, to travel 30 miles a day, and to carry hundreds of pounds, as well as to withstand very hot and very cold temperatures.
This piece has been tested using thermoluminescence (TL) analysis and has been found to be ancient and of the period stated. A full report will accompany purchase.
Provenance: ex-private Micklautz collection, Hawaii, USA, collected from 1940-1998
All items legal to buy/sell under U.S. Statute covering cultural patrimony Code 2600, CHAPTER 14, and are guaranteed to be as described or your money back.
A Certificate of Authenticity will accompany all winning bids.
We ship worldwide and handle all shipping in-house for your convenience.
Expertly repaired and restored from multiple pieces. Much of the original pigment remains with nice deposits on the surface. Wear commensurate with age. Two small TL drill holes, one under the saddle and the other on the base of the neck.