Tang dynasty (618-907 C.E.)
earthenware with three-color (sancai) glaze and polychrome pigment
17 x 6 x 6
During the long journey to distant lands along the Silk Routes, caravans of Bactrian camels were led by grooms. Grooms, whose job was to care for these most important animals through deserts, mountains, and harsh climates in general, played a crucial role in the success of the expedition. Typically, the grooms were immigrants from China's western and northern border regions such as Turkestan whose familiarity with camels made them highly sought after. Grooms such as this figure were used for burial in the tombs of princes and officials. Their presence there provides evidence of the breadth and depth of the Tang's multicultural reign. The hand painting that once decorated this groom's face would have allowed for an even greater sense of individuality and dignity.
--K. Johnson Bowles, 2006, Reflecting Centuries of Beauty: The Rowe Collection of Chinese Art