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SOLD Pair Of Chinese Antique Mother-Of-Pearl Inlaid Black-Lacquered Camels Qing Dynasty 1644-1911


SOLD A pair of antique very rare, mother-of-pearl inlaid black-lacquered Bactrian camels, China, Qing Dynasty (1644-1911)

The exterior finely inlaid in mother-of-pearl with distinct diaper and geometric patterns composed of extraordinarily small, thin fragments of pearl shell and bordered by silver wire. Each camel with a hollow interior compartment with the covers in the shape of elaborate schabracke decorated with two shaped cartouches on either side, each containing the characters Guó all reserved on a ground of fine diaper pattern.

HEIGHT: (approximately): 17 cm (6.69 inches).

CONDITION: In good condition, signs of usage and wear, with no cracks, restorations, or repairs.

Bactrian camel is an important figure in Chinese art associated with ‘Silk Route’ stretching from China to the eager markets of Central Asia, Samarkand, Persia and Syria. In the Tang Dynasty (618-907) camels really did live up to the description of them as ‘ships of the desert’ and were used to transport goods, including silk, across the difficult terrain. Camels can be seen as symbolic of the cosmopolitanism of the Tang capital at Xian (Chang’an). They carried on their return journeys many of the exotic luxuries from the west that were desired by the sophisticated Tang court.

The two-humped Bactrian camel was known in China as early as the Han dynasty (206 BC- 220 AD), having been brought from Central Asia and Eastern Turkestan as tribute. Its amazing ability to survive the hardships of travel across the Asian deserts was soon recognized and Imperial camel herds were established under the administration of a special Bureau. These Imperial camel herds, numbering several thousand, were used for a range of state duties, including the provision of a military courier service for the Northern Frontier. Camels were not only prized as resilient beasts of burden, their hair was also used to produce a cloth admired for its lightness and warmth.

For a related Chinese mother-of-pearl inlaid black-lacquer in the collection of The Metropolitan Museum of Art please see the link below:

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