The sophisticated and naturalistic modeling of the present camel and rider as well as the application of colorful glazes, suggest that the present work dates from the first half of the 8th century, a period considered to be the height of artistic achievement for Chinese tomb sculpture. This group comprising the grand Bactrian camel and a foreign-attired groom, illustrates the Tang dynasty's international scope. During this period the Silk Road flourished, allowing trade between China, Europe and the Near East to thrive. Indicative of the trade route's incredible breadth, the two-hump Bactrian camels were the preferred means of transport for traders as they were capable of traveling farther distances than the single-hump Arabian camels. Ox carts were slow and cumbersome, and horses were expensive and not capable of bearing heavy loads. While sculptures of horses with grooms are not uncommon, fewer examples of camels and grooms are known.
A very similar sancai-glazed camel and groom group from the Toguri Museum of Art Collection was sold in our London rooms, 9th June 2004, lot 75. Compare also a related sancai-glazed camel and groom from the Chinhuatang Collection sold at Christie's Hong Kong, 30th November 2016, lot 3305. For an excavated example of a camel and its groom see an unglazed figure of a camel and groom from the tomb of Peishi Xiaoniangzi, circa 850, Xi'an, Shaanxi province, in the Museum of the Stelae, Xi'an, and illustrated in Elfried Regina Knauer, The Camel's Load in Life and Death, Zurich, 1998, pl. 50.