Tang Dynasty Ox Pulling A Cart Statuette


An extremely fine hollow-moulded terracotta Chinese Tang statuette depicting an ox pulling a cart, on a flat, rectangular base. The animal’s head is slightly raised and across its back is a harness, attached to a two-wheeled cart, comprising wooden boards and a canopy top. Multiple raised knobs decorate the harness, as an imitation of the metal knobs used in real life to fasten the harness to the animal’s back. The statuette displays an incredible decoration, with the original red slip still visible to the figure’s body. Additional white and black pigments, have been used to pick out details, such as the horns, the ears and the alert pupils. Anatomical features are rendered in a naturalistic manner, with much attention given to details.

Date: Circa AD 618-906
Period: Tang Dynasty
Condition: Excellent condition. This piece has been thermoluminescence tested, no. 19CM160919, at Laboratory Kotalla.


Tang ceramic production reached its peak with terracotta moulded zoomorphic and anthropomorphic figures, known in Chinese as mingqi. Such statuettes would have been placed in Chinese graves, to assist, protect and entertain the deceased in the afterlife. Statuettes of oxes pulling carts, such as this fine example, would have been placed in the deceased’s tomb to perform labour in the afterlife. Goods animals used on an estate were expected to carry on such work for their owner even after his death.

To discover more about Tang statuettes, please visit our relevant blog post: Terracotta Tomb Attendants.


Weight 4200 g
Dimensions L 32 x W 16 x H 30 cm

Pottery and Porcelain


Reference: For a similar item, The Metropolitan Museum, accession number 13.100.14a–c.