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Formal Art Analysis: Camel

            The artwork that will be analyzing today is called Camel. Camel, a free standing ancient Chinese ceramic statue which is about 33 inches tall and 29 inches wide, now is being displayed in Asian Art Museum of San Francisco. It was found in an aristocratic tomb in the northern regions of China-Shanxi province or Henan province, and was made approximately 1300 years ago in the Tang Dynasty (A.D. 618-906). According to the museum label, the sculpture is made from light-colored earthenware clays, partly using molds with added sections that were joined together. Funerary ceramics like this camel were popular during Tang dynasty, and most of them were made for the tombs of princes and officials in that period. .
             The statue is in excellent condition except that its X-ray scan shows that it was broken into several pieces, but was conserved in a rather rough fashion that was commonly used several decades ago. There is no any obvious damage on it, but a metal coat hanger that is used as an armature can be seen easily. Otherwise, even though after so many years, its colors still look fresh and comforting. The statue, Camel, is a figure of a two-humped camel of the cold deserts of central Asia, called Bactrian camel. During the Tang Dynasty, the Bactrian camel was used to haul trade goods along the silk roads leading out of China across the western regions into Central Asia and beyond (Website of Asian Art Museum). In other words, they played an important role in an international era by flourishing trade and communication transformed China into the cultural center. This sculpture represents a Bactrian camel holding up his head and keeping his mouth open as if he is braying. We can assume that he is very active since his front legs is slightly bent while his back legs are standing upright, and his humps seem swaying. Between his two humps, there is a saddle and saddlebags molded as monstrous masks with wide eyes and protruding fangs.

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