A MASSIVE SANCAI-GLAZED POTTERY FIGURE OF A BACTRIAN CAMEL

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A MASSIVE SANCAI-GLAZED POTTERY FIGURE OF A BACTRIAN CAMEL
TANG DYNASTY

The imposing beast shown standing foursquare with head thrown up as it opens its mouth in a bray revealing sharp teeth, the entire body covered with streaky golden-brown glaze, the heavy fur on the head, neck and tail picked out in darker brown, and the furry tufts on the forelegs left unglazed, the incised humps standing proud of the oval fringed saddle cloth resist-decorated in amber and cream, the large packs impressed with monster masks, flanked by a twist of wool and a pilgrim bottle
32½in. (82.6cm.) high

Lot Essay

For other examples standing foursquare and with simple monster mask packs see Tang Sancai, Heibonsha Series, Japan, 1977, vol. 35, fig. 101; Sekai Toji Zenshu, Tokyo, 1961, vol. 9, pl. 126; and Suzanne Valenstein, The Hertzman Collection of Chinese Ceramics, New York, The Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1992, no. 22
The Bactrian camel was not indigenous to China. Refer to Ezekiel Schloss, Ancient Chinese Ceramic Sculpture, Stamford, Connecticut, 1977, vol. I, pl. 220, where he discusses the importation of tens of thousands of camels from the states of the Tarim Basin, Eastern Turkestan, and Mongolia. The Tang state even created a special office to supervise the imperial camel herds which carried out various state assignments, including military courier service for the northern frontier. The camel was also used by the court and the merchants for local transportation and, of course, were the 'ships of the desert' linking China to the oasis cities of central Asia, Samarkand, Persia and Syria

The result of Oxford thermoluminescence test no. 866b56 is consistent with the dating of this lot

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