Chinese Tang Kneeling Bactrian Camel


A finely modelled hollow terracotta two-humped bactrian camel from the Tang dynasty, shown in a dynamic pose, possibly in the act of standing up. The mammal is kneeling on a polygonal base, balancing its body weight on its bent front legs while keeping the back legs straight. The camel is heavily laden with saddle bags carrying popular items used in the ancient Silk Road trade, such as vessels and silks. The camel’s anatomical and facial features are naturalistic rendered with recessed alert eyes and nostrils painted in a reddish pink and black pigments. Its mouth is presented open, showing individual detailed teeth. Red Thick shaggy fur is visible from below the camel’s chest and terminates under the neck, accompanied by a thick mane of styled hair between its ears.

This piece is accompanied by a positive thermoluminescence analysis report no.C122k20 from Oxford Authentication.

Date: Circa 618-907 AD
Period: Tang Dynasty
Provenance: Ex Hong Kong Collection, London Mayfair Gallery
Condition: Excellent Condition, earthly encrustations to the surface.

In stock

SKU: SM-18 Category: Tags: ,

Bactrian camels were popular animals in Ancient China, used to transport and trade goods along the Silk Road, between China and the West. They were often depicted stacked with bolts of silk, the primary export commodity in demand. Camels played a significant role in stimulating the economic development of the Tang Dynasty. They motivated cultural contacts and trade among ancient kingdoms located on the borders of Tang China.

Tang ceramic production reached its peak with terracotta moulded zoomorphic and anthropomorphic figures, known in Chinese as mingqi, meaning ‘spirit object’. Such statuettes would have been placed in Chinese graves, to assist, protect and entertain the deceased in the afterlife. They may have been intended to perform a practical function (continuing to bear loads for their owner in the afterlife), or to serve as an acknowledgement of the deceased’s status as a trader.

For more information see the blog post on:  Terracotta Tomb Attendants

Weight 3950 g
Dimensions L 31 x W 18 x H 27 cm

Pottery and Porcelain


Reference: For a similar item,Christies, New York, 24th September 2020, lot 899

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