Seated Bactrian Camel

Accession Number

Seated Bactrian Camel


Artist Nationality
Chinese (culture or style)

Object Creation Date

Medium & Support
earthenware with mineral pigment

8 1/4 in x 7 7/8 in x 16 15/16 in (20.96 cm x 20 cm x 43.02 cm)

Credit Line
Gift of Jiu-Hwa Lo Upshur

Subject matter
An earthenware mingqi  (明器), or "bright object", figure of a Bactrian camel of the Tang dynasty (618-906).

During the stable and peaceful Tang Dynasty, the Silk Road brought exotic luxury goods to China, including metalwork, glass, precious stones, ivory, and textiles from Central Asian, India, and the Middle East. The bustling Tang capital of Chang’an (modern Xi’an) was a bit like the Paris and New York of today in its cosmopolitan mix of peoples, cultures, music, foods, and goods, especially from Central Asia. Camels were the primary vehicle to travel through the deserts along the silk road. Native to Central Asia, they represent a sense of exoticism and luxury showing the wealth, status, and sophistication of the tomb occupant. 

Since the Qin dynasty (221 - 206 BCE), ceramic figures have been used to replace human and animal sacrifice in burial practices as a way to provide for the deceased. The number of ceramic mingqi items in a tomb could reach numbers of a few to several hundred objects.

Physical Description
An earthenware bactrian camel seated on bent legs, head raised, with saddle and gear. It is painted with polychrome mineral pigments. 

Primary Object Classification

Primary Object Type
funerary sculpture

Additional Object Classification(s)

Collection Area

If you are interested in using an image for a publication, please visit for more information and to fill out the online Image Rights and Reproductions Request Form. Keywords
Camelus bactrianus (species)
ceramic (material)
figures (representations)
grave goods
mineral pigment

& Author Notes

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