Marble buffalo

Accession No. R014451_1
Period Shang Dynasty
Material Stone
Findspot Royal Tomb No. 1500 Hsi-pei-kang, Yin-xu Site
Geographic Location Hou-Chia-Chuang village, Anyang, Honan province, China
Dimension H.13.9 cm; L.28.3 cm; W.11.7 cm


This sculpture was one of two marble buffalos that were discovered on the south ramp of Tomb No. 1500, along with dragons and tigers in pairs. They were arranged in an orderly fashion with the largest dragons at the front, the buffalos in the middle, and the smallest tigers at the end, and were untouched by looters. This buffalo piece is pale grey with natural light yellow patches, somewhat lighter in color than R014451_2. With a rectangular overall shape, the buffalo is carved in a crouching position, with its teeth gnashing in the undershot jaw. The buffalo has engraved slender “臣” character shaped eyes and a nose with four short, curved lines. A pair of incurving horns with simple decorations rest behind the eyes; below that sits a pair of drop shaped ears. The body of the buffalo is plain, with only vague lines drawing the shape of the limbs. A short tail rests on the raising buttocks of the buffalo. Grooves that portray the legs and a slight chip on the left hind leg can be seen on the bottom side of the sculpture. Drastically different from the elaborate marble animal sculptures from Tomb No. 1001, the marble buffalo is in a simplistic style in shape and decoration.