Skip to content

Collection

All

Search

Asian art

View More:


Title

Figure of a camel

8th century


Artists

Unknown Artist


About

The Tang dynasty is often described as China's Golden Age; nearly three centuries of prosperity and territorial expansion based on an efficient central administration and a lively trans-Asiatic trade along the fabled Silk Roads that traversed the Central Asian deserts. Such was the strength and confidence of Tang China that its capital Changan (present day Xian) became a mecca for foreign traders, merchants and itinerants. The Tang court was receptive to foreign styles and fashions in a way that was unique in the history of China. The spirit of the age is clearly echoed in the bright, three-coloured 'sancai', glazed tomb figurines that were much in vogue in fashionable Changan. From the sixth century, models of camels were included in the repertoire of tomb figures, reflecting the crucial role they played in the extensive trade across Central Asia. This large and naturalistically modelled figure of a braying Bactrian camel would have been placed in the tomb of a deceased member of a Tang royal or aristocratic family along with numerous other figures, of soldiers, guardians, horses, courtly ladies, entertainers, and others in the service of the deceased. The pack, which hangs down on either side of the camel's body, is shaped to represent an ogre or lion's head. Behind the pack and over a fringed saddle cloth are tent poles for camping at night on the journey across Asia.

'Asian Art', AGNSW Collections, 1994, pg. 192.


Details


Place where the work was made

China


Period

Tang dynasty 618 - 907 → China


Date

8th century


Media category

Ceramic


Materials used

earthenware with sancai (three colour) glaze


Dimensions

77.5 x 56.0 x 25.0 cm


Signature & date

Not signed. Not dated.


Credit

Purchased 1990


Location

Not on display


Accession number

1350.1990



Place

Where the work was made
China

Referenced in 2 publications

Bibliography


Jackie Menzies, The Art Gallery of New South Wales collections, 'Asian Art - India, South-East Asia, China, Tibet, Korea, Japan', pg. 173-228, Sydney, 1994, 192 (colour illus.).

Jackie Menzies (Editor), The Asian Collections Art Gallery of New South Wales, 'Tomb Sculpture', Sydney, 2003, 86, 87 (colour illus.).