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HOME : Chinese Art : Masterpieces of Chinese Art : Early Tang Painted Pottery Seated Camel with Detachable Saddle
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Early Tang Painted Pottery Seated Camel with Detachable Saddle - RP.157
Origin: China
Circa: 618 AD to 906 AD
Dimensions: 10" (25.4cm) high x 17.5" (44.5cm) wide
Collection: Chinese Art
Medium: Terracotta

Location: UAE
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During the Tang Dynasty, the status of the beloved camel ranked second only to the revered horse. Camels symbolized commerce and its associated wealth, profits made possible primarily through the legendary Silk Road. Trade across this extensive network of paths and trails brought prosperity, foreigner merchants, and exotic merchandise into China, connecting the Mediterranean world with the Far East. However, this arduous journey through the jagged mountains and rugged deserts of Central Asia could only be undertaken by the two-humped Bactrian camel, a beast able to withstand the scorching heat of the desert and to maintain its own nutrients, surviving for months without fresh supplies of water. The government kept vast herds of these invaluable creatures, presided over by civil officials, for hauling their precious silk supplies across the Silk Road. These exotic creatures were a common sight in the cosmopolitan cities of Tang China, carrying both traders and their goods directly into the markets. Likewise, T’ang artist began to create charming representations of these prized creatures as mingqi wealth and prosperity to come in the afterlife. An ancient Chinese custom, mingqi were works of art specifically created to be interred in the tombs of the elite classes in order to provide for the afterlife. Some of the most beautiful works of Chinese art were excavated from such tombs, and this glazed sculpture of a camel is a perfect example of the refined artistry dedicated to such works, despite the fact that they were never meant to be seen by the living. - (RP.157)


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