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A very rare massive sancai-glazed model of a Bactrian camel Tang Dynasty

2021年11月02日 开拍 / 2021年10月31日 截止委托
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Property from a Distinguished Private Collection 顯赫私人藏品 A very rare massive sancai-glazed model of a Bactrian camel Tang Dynasty The beast powerfully modelled in mid-striding pose with its tall hair-lined neck reared back, the head raised and mouth open as if bellowing, exposing its teeth and prominent tongue, the cream-glazed body surmounted by a square fringed blanket finely decorated in green, chestnut and straw-glazes, the carved details of the fur glazed in brown. 88cm (34 5/8in) high x 74cm (29in) wide x 27cm (10 5/8in) deep. 注脚 唐 三彩駱駝俑Provenance: Tai Sing Fine Antiques Ltd., Hong Kong A distinguished American private collection, acquired from the above in January 2002來源:香港大成古玩有限公司美國私人收藏,於2002年購自上者Finely modelled with an arched neck and mouth open wide as it bellows, the present camel is an exceptional example of sancai sculptures created during the Tang dynasty. The extraordinary sense of realism, conveyed by the forward moving posture of the creature, enhanced by the strong and slender legs, highly detailed with naturalistic tufts of dark fur, and the tall humps, gently swaying to either side of the body, shows a remarkable degree of observation on the sculptor's part which is rarely otherwise encountered on animal models of this period to this high degree.The creature would have been individually sculpted and extremely expensive to produce at the time. It would have been commissioned for internment in a burial belonging to an elite member of Tang society and deemed to become alive for the benefit of its owner. Ancestors in China were deemed active participants in the life of their living offspring, which they could positively influence if provided with continuous care. Miniature universes were thus presented in burials and filled with a variety of necessities as painted, carved or moulded images, which were believed to function like their real counterpart if provided with the correct features. Forming an analogical relation with daily forms, these figures and models embodied important social and ideological aspects of their own time; see J.Rawson, 'The Power of Images: The Model Universe of The First Emperor and Its Legacy,' Historical Research, 2002, vol.75, no.188, pp.123-54. By the Tang dynasty, the burials constructed for the highest-ranking members of society were decorated in a way that suggested a Courtly architectural compound through painted designs of receiving halls, garden settings and official gatherings, and a large amount of pottery figures of courtiers, attendants, entertainers, horses and camels; E.L.Johnston, 'Auspicious Motifs In Ninth-Thirteenth-Century Chinese Tombs', Ars Orientalis, 2005, vol.33, no.2, pp.33-75; see also J.Rawson, 'Creating Universes: Cultural Exchange As Seen In Tombs In Northern China Between the Han and Tang Periods', Between Han and Tang: Cultural and Artistic Interactions in a Transformative Period, Beijing, 2001, pp.113-152. These referred to frivolous moments of daily life and appeared in conjunction with a variety of extravagantly shaped vessels and personal ornaments made of gold, silver, and other precious materials, which reflected the prosperity of the Empire.In appearance, the present camel represents the Bactrian camel, which was imported into China from the areas of the Tarim Basin, eastern Turkestan and Mongolia. This species was highly regarded by the Tang Emperors who established dedicated offices to oversee the Imperial camel herds. Referred to as the 'ships of the desert', camels endured hot temperatures and were the essential method of transport for merchants wishing to conduct trade with the oasis cities of Central Asia, such as Samarkand, Bukhara and Isfahan, along the trading routes of the Silk Road; see E.R.Krauer, The Camel's Load In Life & Death, Cambridge, 1998, pp.50-120.Vast riches poured into the Tang capital, Chang'an, from the Silk Road. Merchants came from far afield to acquire silk, bamboo and lacquer wares, and imported perfumes, horse and jewels; see E.Schafer, The Golden Peaches of Samarkand: A Study of Tang Exotics, Berkeley, 1963, pp.7-40. Different types of food, spices, and wines were also imported into Tang China, as well as exotic musical genres, fashions and literary styles. In the arts, many foreign shapes such as amphorae, bird-headed ewers and rhyton cups, and decorative motifs, such as hunting scenes, floral medallions, garlands, swags, vines and Buddhist symbols, were imported from Central Asia and the Middle East; see B.Mater, De Gouden Eeuw Van China: De Tang Dynastie (618-907AD), Assen, 2011, pp.16-68. The recent excavation of thirty-seven tax receipts, recording approximately 600 payments, made in a year at a tax office outside Turfan (present-day Xinjiang), testifies to the fast pace of trading activities during the Tang dynasty. Chang'an had two main markets, referred to as the Eastern and the Western Market, both filled with shops, eateries and tea houses, and additional trading centres were established in the proximity of its main gates; see V.Hansen, The Silk Road: A New History, London, 2012.The animated attitude of this remarkable camel is reminiscent of the running camels vividly depicted on the walls of Crown Prince Zhuanghuai's tomb (d.684), excavated in Qianxian near Xi'an, Shaanxi Province, dated to 706 AD, illustrated in Out of China's Earth: Archaeological Discoveries in People's Republic of China, Beijing, 1981, pl.258.Compare also with a large sancai camel, Tang dynasty, similarly modelled in mid-stride, in the collection of the British Museum, London, illustrated in Sekai toji zenshu, vol.11, Tokyo, 1976, p.148, no.136.A related sancai-glazed camel, Tang dynasty, was sold at Bonhams London, 8 November 2018, lot 28.


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