Greenish nephrite with brown inclusions
Late Ming Period
Length: 5-1/2 in (13.97 cm)
In the history of jade, the camel is one of the most symbolic and enduring images of the period. During the Tang dynasty (618-907), Chinese trade with Central Asia centered along the Silk Road which was prone to difficult terrain and a variety of adverse weather conditions. The strength and resilience of the camel made this animal a suitable means of transportation. Integral to the functioning of trade, the camel came to symbolize commerce and its associated wealth and thus became an important subject for Chinese sculptural works of art.
The camel is seated looking straight ahead with its legs and tail tucked neatly beneath. The artist has masterfully utilized the darker inclusions in the jade to indicate soft shading and variation in the camel’s coat. The fluidity of the curves outlining the body and the serene facial expression of the camel results in an appearance of elegant composure from the figure. In our opinion, the subject matter, material, and workmanship of this camel suggests a Late – Ming period date.
Reference Number 2573
Formerly in a Distinguished American Collection
Ex Collection: Siu Cho Fong, Hong Kong
A camel in a reclining pose dated Yuan-Ming period (1279-1644) is illustrated in A Jade Menagerie: Creatures Real and Imaginary From The Worrell Collection. John Ayers. London: Azimuth Editions, 1993. Plate 28.
A camel in a similar recumbent pose dated Yuan dynasty (1279-1368) is illustrated in The Museum of East Asian Art: Jades from China. Angus Forsyth and Brian McElney. Bath: The Museum of East Asian Art, 1994. Page 340, Plate 260.
An example of a reclining jade camel from the Tang dynasty (618-907) which is executed in a similar pose is illustrated in Chinese Carved Jades. S. Howard Hansford. London: Faber and Faber, 1968.
An early example of a pair of ceramic camels from the Sui period (589-618) are illustrated in Ritual and Belief: Chinese Jade and Related Arts. S. Bernstein. San Francisco: S. Bernstein & Co., 1992. Plate 26.