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Tomb Figure of a Bactrian Camel

Artist/maker unknown, Chinese

Made in Chang'an, Shaanxi Province, China, Asia

Early to mid- 8th century

Earthenware with three-color (sancai) glaze

32 × 10 × 25 inches (81.3 × 25.4 × 63.5 cm)

Curatorial Department:
East Asian Art

* Gallery 233, Asian Art, second floor, (Rome Gallery)

Accession Number:

Credit Line:
Gift of Mrs. John Wintersteen, 1964

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Additional information:
  • PublicationPhiladelphia Museum of Art: Handbook of the Collections

    This tomb figure of a fully laden camel suggests the flourishing overland trade carried along the Silk Route that stretched from the Chinese capital of Chang-an to its western terminus in Constantinople (Istanbul). The modeling of the ungainly camel is rendered naturalistically and reveals a loving attention to detail, down to the slab of dried meat and water flasks on the saddle. The size of the tomb figures of animals and other representations of daily life that were customarily buried with the deceased was regulated by law. This exceptionally large and impressive piece from the Museum's outstanding group of Tang tomb figures must have been commissioned for a high-ranking member of the nobility as a testimony of his wealth in this life and a reassurance to his departed spirit in the afterlife. Chang-an was a major center for the production of the tomb figures, and its potters discovered new glazing techniques that produced the rich tones of green, yellow, and brown seen on this camel. Felice Fischer, from Philadelphia Museum of Art: Handbook of the Collections (1995), p. 27.

* Works in the collection are moved off view for many different reasons. Although gallery locations on the website are updated regularly, there is no guarantee that this object will be on display on the day of your visit.

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