Tomb Figure of a Bactrian Camel
, 8th century
Earthenware with sancai (tricolor) glaze
32 x 10 x 25 inches (81.3 x 25.4 x 63.5 cm)
Gift of Mrs. John Wintersteen, 1964
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Of what material is this sculpture made?
- What animal is shown?
What details tell you so?
- What colors are used?
- The colors appear to run and drip in
- This sculpture was excavated from a
wealthy person’s tomb. What use might a
camel have been to a person’s afterlife?
Research Activity: Who Was Marco Polo?
What was it like to travel the Silk Route across so many lands? Have students research thirteenth-century Venetian merchant Marco Polo, who set out with his father and uncle to East Asia. Use a map of the Silk Route to trace his journey from Venice to China and back. Discuss how cultural ideas were exchanged as travelers and traders along the Silk Route met and interacted with different cultures.
Art Project: Guardian Figure
Tomb sculptures helped spirits in the
afterlife. Camels carried the spirit in travel,
and guardian figures were fierce and
kept away evil spirits. Have students create
their own guardian figure. Gather
found objects (Styrofoam cups, Popsicle
sticks, plastic bottles, twigs, leaves, etc.)
and use them to create an imaginary
guardian creature—one scary enough to
keep away bad things. Use Tang dynasty
—cream (white), green, and amber
(dark orange yellow)—to decorate the
sculpture. Notice how the artist of Tomb
Figure of a Bactrian Camel
the colors, allowing them to drip down
and create a free-form effect.
Group Project: Trade Goods on the
Camels like the one depicted here were
used by Silk Route caravans to carry the
luxury goods of the West and the East.
What did people want to buy and sell?
Have students work in small groups to
create a list of the things that might have
been exchanged along the Silk Route.
Appoint each group as either merchants
from the East or the West. Why would
anyone want to buy items on their list?
How would they sell these wares?