A fine and large unglazed grey pottery camel and rider Tang Dynasty
Lot 229
A fine and large unglazed grey pottery camel and rider
Tang Dynasty
£80,000 - 120,000
US$ 130,000 - 190,000
amended

Lot Details
A fine and large unglazed grey pottery camel and rider Tang Dynasty A fine and large unglazed grey pottery camel and rider Tang Dynasty A fine and large unglazed grey pottery camel and rider Tang Dynasty
A fine and large unglazed grey pottery camel and rider
Tang Dynasty
The camel modelled striding forwards on straight legs, the body with two humps pointing upwards in front of the delicately-waving tail, the head supported on a long curving neck with a shaggy mane and looking slightly to the left with the mouth wide open and the tongue reaching up to the top jaw, the rider separately modelled with right hand raised to hold the reins, a broad frowning face and a thick fur coat open to reveal the rounded belly, seated atop a saddle and heavy packs modelled to fit onto the camel's twin humps. The camel 78cm (30¾in) high; the rider 32.8cm (12 7/8in) high (2).

Footnotes

  • Provenance: Priestley & Ferraro, London
    Count F. Didisheim, Belgium, acquired at Maastricht 2002

    唐 胡人騎駱駝陶俑

    來源:倫敦Priestley & Ferraro
    Court F. Didisheim,比利時,於2002年得自馬斯特里赫特

    Handsome, imposing and exotic camels such as the present lot are of great scholarly importance as well as being highly decorative. Much of the evidence of Tang dynasty life comes from archaeological pieces from tomb excavations which bear witness to a fear of death as well as a desire to recreate the lifestyle and comforts experienced in this life. Impressive beasts such as this camel, as well as horses and other figures including attendants, officials and servants, were therefore required to accompany the deceased on his journey in the afterlife.

    The position of the camel, designed as one of a pair to flank the tomb entrance, would speak eloquently of the wealth and status of the deceased. The two-humped Bactrian camel was an exotic beast known in China from the Han Dynasty, when it was first introduced as a form of tribute offered by the tribes of Turkestan and Central Asia. Prized for their ability to survive extreme hardships of heat, cold and lack of water when travelling across the desert, camels came to symbolise the freely-flowing trade established along the Silk Road and thus the wealth and cosmopolitan nature of the Tang court. It is no coincidence that the rider of the present camel is clearly of foreign demeanour and clothing, and sits atop heavily-laden saddle bags. In addition, Imperial camel herds, numbering several thousand, were used for a range of state duties, including the provision of a military courier service for the Northern Frontier, adding military authority to the significance of the camel.

    Furthermore, the impressive size of the present lot and the complexity of its manufacture with a massive body raised on elegant, slender and particularly long legs, suggests that it was a very costly piece to commission, indicating again that the bereaved family was wealthy and important.

    Examples of Tang Dynasty camels of comparable exceptional quality are in numerous major museum collections, including those of the British Museum in London and the Musée Guimet in Paris.

Saleroom notices

  • Please note that the results of a thermoluminescence test, Oxford Authentication Ltd., No. C102c48 of 28 January 2002, is consistent with the dating of this lot.
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