Or are you looking for Search the Archives?

Please complete the form to email this item.

Clay impression - The Stein Collection

The Stein Collection

  • Object:

    Clay impression

  • Place of origin:

    Xinjiang (made)

  • Date:

    6th century - 7th century (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Impressed clay

  • Credit Line:

    Stein Loan Collection. On loan from the Government of India and the Archaeological Survey of India. Copyright: Government of India

  • Museum number:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This is a clay votive impression of a seated Bodhisattva. Unfortunately, this object was entirely destroyed. It was excavated from the remains of a Buddhist shrine at the site of Kara-Yantak between Khotan and Keriya in Xinjiang, China.

The Victoria and Albert Museum has more than 70 ceramic fragments and fragments of Buddhist sculptures, as well as around 600 ancient and medieval textiles recovered by Sir Marc Aurel Stein (1862-1943) during his second expedition (1906-8) into Chinese Central Asia, where he once again visited and excavated sites on the southern Silk Road, before moving eastwards to Dunhuang. At Dunhuang, he studied and excavated the Han-dynasty watchtowers to the north of the town, as well as the Mogao cave temples to the southeast, where he acquired material from the Library Cave. From there he moved on to the northern Silk Road, stopping briefly at Turfan sites but not carrying out any excavations. He made a perilous north-south crossing of the Taklamakan desert in order to hasten to Khotan where he excavated more ancient sites, before finishing off his expedition with surveying in the Kunlun Mountains.

Physical description

Clay votive impression. A seated Bodhisattva was impressed into a clay lump. Entirely destroyed.

Place of Origin

Xinjiang (made)


6th century - 7th century (made)



Materials and Techniques

Impressed clay


Height: 12 cm original, Width: 7.6 cm original

Object history note

Excavated at the site of Kara-Yantak.

Historical context note

Kara-Yantak lies near Farhad-Beg-yailiki on the southern Silk Road. Here Stein found the remains of a Buddhist shrine, of which only the foundation beams and posts remained, along with chips of painted wood. His excavations revealed that it was similar in plan and decoration to the shrine at nearby Khadalik, which had flourished between the eight and tenth century AD. The scanty remains included fragments of sculptures, a wooden pothi, or religious document of Indian origin, covered with a Central Asian script and clay impressions of a bodhisattva on a lotus throne. Among the most significant finds were pieces of a wall mural, showing small, seated Buddha figures in a diaper pattern. The presence of a single Tang Dynasty (618-907 AD) coin suggested that the settlement had been abandoned in the late eight century. There are a few fresco fragments from Kara-Yantak in the V&A Stein collection.

Descriptive line

Clay votive impression of a Bodhisattva, China.

Bibliographic References (Citation, Note/Abstract, NAL no)

Stein, Marc Aurel. Serindia: detailed report of explorations in Central Asia and westernmost China. Oxford: Clarendon, 1921, vol. 3, p.1268
Stein, Marc Aurel. Serindia: detailed report of explorations in Central Asia and westernmost China. Oxford: Clarendon, 1921, vol. 4, pl.CXXXIX

Production Note

from Kara-Yantak








East Asia Collection

Large image request

Please confirm you are using these images within the following terms and conditions, by acknowledging each of the following key points:

Please let us know how you intend to use the images you will be downloading.