VIRTUAL COLLECTION OF ASIAN MASTERPIECES

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Standing Zebu
MA 4024
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Why this is a
Masterpiece

The fleshy hump and clearly molded and detailed dewlaps and bulky breast call to mind the tropical zebu, the strong and powerful peasant’s companion to his daily work as well as the safe and steadfast energy pulling carts and carriages. The mingqi was made from a dense stoneware with ivory-coloured glaze upon which was applied brown green copper oxide glaze, the trickles of which were left running on the animal’s coat so as to look like natural spots. Small head, small horns and bulging eyes, the animal stands on a rectangular base and looks so natural that you may think it has just had its photograph taken. This utter realistic handling makes it a unique masterpiece among the mingqi production of the 7th century. But this is not all -- zebu are usually shown harnessed to a cart and very seldom alone. The reason for its not being so here may allude to the ancient Yu’s legend which explains that the mythical hero used an ox metallic image to pacify the furious waters to prevent them from becoming a threat to the world.

History of the Object
This zebu figurine was acquired by Michel Calmann (1880-1974). A French man, Michel Calmann first bought some objects at random which had attracted him by their colour and shape and were said to come from China. Some time later he met British and other specialists, learned more and developed a learned passion for Chinese ceramics before their ultimate porcelain revolution. Between 1929 an 1960, parts of the Calmann’s collection were shown in Berlin, London and Paris. In 1969 it was housed in the Musée Guimet as a bequest contingent on usufruct and legally became State property in 1978 when Michel Calmann died at the age of 94.

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Type
Sculpture 
Materials
Earthenware with green color lead glaze 
Measurements
rectangular base: 10 X 14 cm. 
Creator name
Unknown 
Creator date
Unknown 
Where it was made
China 
Geography
China 
Time period
AD 7th century ~ AD 7th century 
Creation date
7th Century; early; Tang Dynasty 
Function
Replica for use in the afterlife 
Acquisition
Michel Calmann’s collection bequest to the Guimet Museum, 1978 
Copyright
 
Acknowledgements
 
Owner
State property, France 
Museum
Musée National des arts asiatiques Guimet 
Credit line
 

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