A magnificent sancai-glazed camel and a foreign attendant, Tang dynasty (618-907)

Lot 3305. A magnificent sancai-glazed camel and a foreign attendant, Tang dynasty (618-907). Estimate HKD 3,800,000 - HKD 5,000,000 (USD 492,129 - USD 647,538). Price Realised HKD 4,620,000 (USD 598,418). Photo Christie's Images Ltd 2016.

The amber-glazed camel is naturalistically shown striding, with the mane, tail, and two humps highlighted in cream glaze. The head arches strongly upwards with the mouth agape revealing long pointed teeth and tongue. The camel’s back is laden with a bulging sack moulded on either side with a large monster mask and various provisions including a ewer and a pilgrim flask, all above fitted white saddle cloth. Camel: 34 5/8 in. (88 cm.) high; attendant: 26 in. (66 cm.) high

ProvenanceThe Dexinshuwu Collection, acquired in Taipei, prior to 1995

Property from the Chinhuatang Collection.

ExhibitedChang Foundation, Ching Wan Society Millennium Exhibition,Taipei, 2000, Catalogue, pl. 64

NotesSancai camels of such large size are extremely rare and the most highly prized among collectors. Elaborately modelled with its head thrown up, bulging eyes, mouth agape and ears alert, the sculpture successfully imparts a sense of realism and subtle movement. A comparable striding amber-glazed camel also naturalistically modelled with its head powerfully arched upwards and mouth agape is in the Nelson Atkins Museum, Kansas, illustrated in Zhongguo sancai, Taipei, 1997, p.113, pl. 20-1. The present camel is further distinguished by its imposing monster mask-form sack fastened with various trade goods, including a ewer and a pilgrim flask, which adds a refined finish to the beautiful, amber-glazed body. Similarly rendered saddle sacks and blankets with moulded monster masks also appear on a camel of similar size but in different glaze colours in the British Museum Collection, London, illustrated in Sekai toji zenshu, vol. 11, Tokyo, 1976, p. 148, no. 136.

The result of Oxford Authentication thermoluminescence test (no. C298j57 for the attendant; no. C298j54 for the camel, 6 January 1999) is consistent with the dating of this lot.

Christie's. Important Chinese Ceramics and Works of Art, 30 November 2016, Hong Kong, HKCEC Grand Hall