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Fragment - The Stein Collection

The Stein Collection

  • Object:

    Fragment

  • Place of origin:

    Miran Fort (excavated)

  • Date:

    8th century (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Braided wool

  • Credit Line:

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

  • Museum number:

    LOAN:STEIN.281

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

These fragments of a braided flat band are made of pale brown wool. One piece is knotted. It is unclear what the fragments would have been used for, although they are likely to have had a utilitarian function. They were recovered from the site of Miran Fort on the eastern edge of the Taklamakan desert. Material discovered at this site was found mainly among the remains of a fort held by the Tibetans during their domination of the southern Taklamakan in the 8th century.

The site is part of an area of Central Asia we now call the Silk Road, a series of overland trade routes that crossed Asia from China to Europe. The Silk Road was also important for the exchange of ideas. While silk textiles travelled west from China, Buddhism entered China from India along this route.

These textile fragments were brought back from Central Asia by the explorer and archaeologist Sir Marc Aurel Stein (1862-1943). The Victoria and Albert Museum has around 700 ancient and medieval textiles recovered by Stein at the beginning of the 20th century. Some are silk while others are made from the wool of a variety of animals.

Physical description

Two pieces of a braided flat band made of pale brown wool. One piece knotted.

Place of Origin

Miran Fort (excavated)

Date

8th century (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Materials and Techniques

Braided wool

Dimensions

Length: 13.4 cm, Width: 1 cm one braid

Object history note

Attached to fragment is a circular metal-rimmed label showing Stein number possibly in Stein's handwriting or that of his assistant, Miss F M G Lorimer.

Historical context note

The Miran fort lies midway along southern Silk Road, at the foot of the Kunlun Mountains. When Tibetan troops occupied the area in the late eight century AD, they built the fort to guard one of many routes through which they moved into Central Asia. In 1907, Stein excavated rubbish heaps at the fort and found wood slips, dating from the eight to the ninth century AD, which provided early examples of Tibetan writing. He also found fragments of wool rugs in bright colours and pieces of silk. The V&A holds a large number of textiles from the Miran Fort on loan, including spun wool, pattern and plain woven silk and wool, woven and spun hemp, woven horsehair, cords and painted silk.

Descriptive line

Fragments of braided wool band

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

Stein, Aurel, Serindia: Detailed Report of Exploration in Central Asia and Westernmost China Carried Out and Described Under the Orders of H.M Indian Government , 5 vols (Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1921), vol. I, p.482.

Materials

Wool

Techniques

Braiding

Categories

Archaeology; Textiles

Collection

East Asia Collection

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