- Museum number
- Object: Tribute Horse and Camel
Sketch of horse and camel, each led by a groom. Two sheets of paper, one animal and groom on each, pasted together. Whip of a third groom is visible on the small surviving section of paper attached on the right. On the reverse, an inscription dating to AD 966. Related text on the recto overlapping the painting. Ink and colour on paper.
- Production date
- 966 (inscription on reverse)
Height: 31.50 centimetres
Width: 86 centimetres
- Curator's comments
The horse and camel in this painting do not carry any loads, which suggests that they represent tribute animals, perhaps intended for the Chinese court. This work is made of two sheets of paper pasted together. The inscription on verso is a draft text dated 966 that record the restoration of Cave 96 at the Mogao Caves. It was sponsored by Cao Yuanzhong, commander of the local military government (Guiyijun) and his wife, a member of the Zhai clan.
From Whitfield 1983:
These two animals are depicted in lively fashion, each attended by a groom or keeper. Although the whip of a third driver is visible on the right, this is not a caravan of merchants or a series of haphazard sketches; despite its swift execution, it is a record of animals brought as tribute, of the kind that is known through the lost masterpiece of Li Gonglin 李公麟, Five Tribute Horses, which itself followed a genre already well established in the Tang. The grooms in the Stein sketch stand close to their charges, as if drawn up for inspection. A rather different impression is given in a manuscript in the British Library illustrating the Perils from which Avalokitesvara offered protection, as an armed warrior confronts a man leading a camel and mule, with the Bodhisattva intervening (Fig. 95-2). There. Despite the resemblance of the animals to those shown here, the context clearly indicates a merchant and his caravan.
Each of the animals occupies a whole sheet of paper, the sheets being stuck together, with the leading edge of the third sheet overlapping a centimetre or so on the right. On the back of the drawing is an inscription dated in the fourth year of Qiande of the Song (A.D.966) and relating to the repair of temples by the ruler of Dunhuang, Cao Yuanzhong (Fig.84). This date and a few other phrases from the inscription were practiced first on the painted side of the paper. According to Waley, these phrases were written before the sketches were made; but a close inspection of the work shows that the pale ink characters lie over the colour washes that lend a certain finish to the two animals. Furthermore, the long inscription on the back extends only about three-quarters of the length of the two surviving sheets of paper, not reaching the third sheet. I am therefore in no doubt that the inscription, which contains numerous crossed-out characters, was itself merely a rough draft, and that the sketches must date considerably earlier, and not later, than A.D. 966.
There is in Berlin, in the Museum fur Indische Kunst, a handsome drawing of a horse (Acc. No.Ⅲ 7587) not unlike these sketches but without a groom, and more careful in execution. There too there is writing on the back, but apparently directly related to the subject, since it seems to number horses and the amounts of food eaten by them. The piece was found at Khotan. Among the Pelliot manuscripts in the Bibliotheque Nationale, P. 3951 shows a horse and P. 4717 a camel, depicted in ink outline only, and without grooms, but otherwise similar to the Stein fragment (Jao Tsong-yi, 1978, Pls. LⅡ, LⅢ).
From Whitfield 1983:
柏林的印度美術館中有一幅漂亮的馬的線描畫（收藏號No.III7587），畫得非常仔細，與此不同的是沒有畫馭者。背面同樣也有文字，但文字記述的是與主題有關的馬及飼料的的數量。此畫是在和闐被發現的。法國國立圖書館藏伯希和收集的文書P. 3951是畫的一匹馬，P. 4717畫的是一匹駱駝，僅用墨綫勾勒輪廓，同樣也沒有畫馭者，但其他方面卻與本圖所示的畫非常相似（參照饒宗頤《敦煌白畫》，1978年，圖52、53）。
- Not on display
- Exhibition history
Tokyo Metropolitan Museum of Art, 1996 'Serinde, Terre du Bouddha'
2016 7 May-4 Sep, Los Angeles, Getty Research Institute, Cave Temples of Dunhuang: Buddhist Art on China's Silk Road
- Acquisition date
- Acquisition notes
- For full acquisition history, see 1919,0101,0.1.
- Registration number
- Additional IDs
Miscellaneous number: Ch.00207 (Stein no.)