Camel with a light load
This is a sancai ceramic camel produced around late Tang dynasty. It dates back to first half of eight century. It was made of earthenware with three-color lead glaze. It has glazed brown hairs and white body. The green color decorated the big-nose human mask and cushions on its back. Although there are clear separations of colors, we can see some running colors on the face and under the exotic mask. The camel has its head raised up and mouth opened as if the camel was giving voices. This sancai camel is kept in Idemitsu bijutsukan in Tokyo now.
The most obvious character of this sancai camel is its colorful glazes. The yellow, brown and green colors ...view middle of the document...
After the clays being shaped, they are put into fire for the first time under 1000 to 1100 degrees. Then the original rough models will be glazed after cooling down. The glazed models will be fired under slightly lower temperature about 850 to 950 degrees again. However, there is still one more important step to finish the sancai production. The glazed and fired ceramics have to be caved and polished again to present the details. For example, producers had to add more details on the sancai camel to make sure the appearance of the hair of the camel or the slightly groove between the camel hoof.
In addition, the sancai technique also combined the methods from Chinese traditional painting. The sancai camel object was carefully carved with fleshy figure and clear transformation of different color patterns. It showed us a figure of moving camel with each hair detail expressed. The muscles and bones can also be seen obviously. Also, all three different colors were used on the exotic mask embodied a three-dimensional effect.
Figure and style
The figure of the sancai object is a camel. This sancai ceramic camel depicted a two-humped camel which also called bactrain camel. This kind of camel was popular in Mongolia, Turkestan and northern Persia. The camel has its opened mouth and a head is raised and thrown back. The camel takes a forward position. It has a big-nose mask on the side of cushion and also a bottle next to the mask. According to the book “Tang and Liao ceramic”, these characters of the sancai camel can be identified as a centre Asia representation of merchants’ camel.
The appearance of sancai camel started a time period when the county export and diplomatic situation came to the highest point in the history. That kind of social situation, in one hand, affected the culture and financial system from other countries such as Sogdians, Korea and Japan, but on the other hand, helped Tang artists absorbed the culture from these countries. The closet relationship between Tang court and Sogdians was the reason of production of sancai camel. So, the foreign-looking figures for example, the sancai camel, may stand for Sogdians’ camel.
Camel is a quite popular element is Tang sancai because during Tang dynasty, thousands of grooms or merchants from central Asians travelled the Silk Road by the help from camels. As Professor Schafer said: “Camels came as presents to the throne, as a tribute, as commodities, and as war booty .…camels were enumerated among things of the greatest worth, like gold, silver, virgins, and slaves and they appeared in omen lore and poetry as beneficent and noble animals.” In the Tang dynasty, camels, especially the white camels, had special assignments. They were called: “Emissaries of the Bright Camels ". It means they were responsible for state business and exchange national information among Tang court to other countries. So the camel figures represent the medium to bring goods and wealth to people, and...