The chimeric camels of China

In times of old,  intrepid European explorers who ventured into remote countries like China or Africa would return with travelers’ tales of amazing creatures such as have never been seen. And apparently such wonderful animals still exist in far away lands, reflected in the meager evidence that filters back. Take this sighting…

Camel Donkey from China

I saw these small figurines – and dozens like them – on display at a souvenir shop in Ben Gurion International Airport. Nothing surprising about camel figurines in an Israeli tourist trap, after all we do have camels in this country, though you’d need to travel far into the desert to find any. The price tags said these were made in China – no surprise there either, everything is these days.

There were two models: a kneeling animal, with the unmistakable hump, thin legs,and small-eared head of a camel; and a standing one, with the hump of a camel, and the short thick legs, long ears, and stiff mane of a… donkey. Indeed, other than the hump, the Chinese craftsman has done an excellent job of capturing the anatomy of this patient beast of burden. The travelers were right: wondrous chimeric beasts must exist in China, and they seem to inspire Chinese product design!

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