Chinese Tang Dynasty Terracotta Camel


A finely moulded Chinese Tang Dynasty light terracotta tomb figure depicting a naturalistically rendered Bactrian camel. The animal is portrayed standing on four legs and features two prominent humps rising from its back and a long neck which smoothly terminates into a slightly raised head. The mouth is presented open with the tongue sensitively painted in visible red pigment. The camel is shown carrying a saddle on an oval blanket or saddle cloth along with some baggage. Much of the original pigments, which would have been applied after firing, is still visible to the statuettes surface, including white, red, black and yellow pigments.

N.B. This item will require additional postage charges after checkout due to weight and size.

Date: Circa 618-907 AD
Period: Tang Dynasty 
Provenance: From a West Country collection, 1990s; formerly with a Hong Kong gallery
Condition: Fine, complete and intact with original pigment visible. Minor repairs to three of the feet and a small chip to the tail.


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

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

Weight 3250 g
Dimensions L 35.5 x H 39.5 cm

Pottery and Porcelain


Reference: For a similar item, please see Christies Auction House, Lot 1161

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