Buff-Colored Camel, From The Tomb Sculpture Set: Two Standing, Braying Camels, One Buff, One White, Their Backs Laden With Goods
proper left 3/4 view © President and Fellows of Harvard College
Gallery Text

After the collapse of the Han dynasty in 220 CE, China entered a long period of disunion in which the north was occupied and at times ruled by ethnic minorities. The custom of producing ceramic tomb sculptures nevertheless carried on throughout this period, reaching its pinnacle in the Tang dynasty (618–907), one of the most peaceful, prosperous, cosmopolitan eras in China’s history. The Tang capital of Chang’an (present-day Xi’an, Shaanxi province) attracted numerous foreign traders, pilgrims, and goods, as the famed overland trade route known as the Silk Road terminated in this city. Large sets of ceramic sculptures representing the horses, camels, and foreign merchants that frequented northern China have been recovered from burials. Tang ceramic funerary retinues were especially elaborate, featuring fierce armored guards, proud court attendants, and aristocratic equestrians engaged in leisurely pursuits—all serving to demonstrate the high status of the tomb occupant. Large monster masks such as the one displayed here have been discovered on the lintels of tomb entrances, presumably as a means to ward off evil.

Identification and Creation
Object Number
Buff-Colored Camel, from the tomb sculpture set: Two Standing, Braying Camels, One Buff, One White, Their Backs Laden with Goods
Work Type
funerary sculpture
550 - 577
Creation Place: East Asia, China
Six Dynasties period, Northern Qi dynasty, 550-577
Physical Descriptions
Molded, medium gray earthenware with cold-painted pigments; localized areas with cold-painted pigments over white ground
H. 35 x W. 27.5 x D. 16.5 cm (13 3/4 x 10 13/16 x 6 1/2 in.)
Anthony M. Solomon, New York (by 2003), gift; to Harvard University Art Museums, 2003.
Acquisition and Rights
Credit Line
Harvard Art Museums/Arthur M. Sackler Museum, Gift of Anthony M. Solomon
Accession Year
Object Number
Asian and Mediterranean Art
Publication History

Virginia Bower, From Court to Caravan: Chinese Tomb Sculptures from the Collection of Anthony M. Solomon, exh. cat., ed. Robert D. Mowry, Harvard University Art Museums (Cambridge, Mass., 2002), pp. 99-101, cat. no. 25

Robert D. Mowry, "Selected Chinese Funerary Sculptures from the Collection Presented to the Harvard University Art Museums by Anthony M. Solomon", Orientations, Orientations Magazine Ltd. (Hong Kong, September 2004), vol. 35, no. 6, pp. 73-75, p. 73, fig. 1 (right)

Harvard University Art Museums, Harvard University Art Museums Annual Report 2003-2004 (Cambridge, MA, 2005), p. 20

Stephan Wolohojian, ed., Harvard Art Museum/ Handbook, Harvard Art Museum (Cambridge, MA, 2008), p. 32

Subjects and Contexts

Google Art Project

Related Works

This record has been reviewed by the curatorial staff but may be incomplete. Our records are frequently revised and enhanced. For more information please contact the Division of Asian and Mediterranean Art at am_asianmediterranean@harvard.edu