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Fragment - The Stein Collection

The Stein Collection

  • Object:

    Fragment

  • Place of origin:

    Khadalik (excavated)

  • Date:

    700-1000 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:

    Unknown

  • Materials and Techniques:

    Plain woven unidentified plant fibre with felt padding and stitching

  • 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.126

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This circular mat is made up of a layer of cream felt in between two pieces of plain woven cream plant fibre bound with a strip of plain woven red plant fibre. It was recovered from the site of Khadalik, a Buddhist shrine dating from the 8th to the 10th century AD.

The site is part of an area now referred to as the Silk Road, a series of overland trade routes that crossed Asia, from China to Europe. The most notable item traded was silk. Camels and horses were used as pack animals and merchants passed their goods from oasis to oasis. The Silk Road was also important for the exchange of ideas – while silk textiles travelled west from China, Buddhism entered China from India in this way.

This fragment was 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 twentieth century. The textiles range in date from the second century BC to the twelfth century AD. Some are silk while others are made from the wool of a variety of different animals.

Physical description

Circular mat consisting of two pieces of monochrome plain weave cream unidentified plant fibre stitched together and bound with a strip of monochrome plain weave red unidentified plant fibre. The mat is padded with a layer of cream felt.

Place of Origin

Khadalik (excavated)

Date

700-1000 (made)

Artist/maker

Unknown

Materials and Techniques

Plain woven unidentified plant fibre with felt padding and stitching

Dimensions

Diameter: 8.5 cm

Object history note

Attached to object is a rectangular tag label showing Stein number possibly in Stein's handwriting or that of his assistant, Miss F M G Lorimer.

Historical context note

Khadalik lies between Khotan and Keriya on the southern branch of the Silk Road. Here Stein discovered remains of a number of Buddhist shrines. Inside several temples were elaborate murals depicting Buddhist deities, large statues with traces of gilding, reliefs and painted panels. Large numbers of Buddhist texts were found among the ruins, including pothi, religious books of Indian origin, written in Sanskrit, wooden tablets and sticks covered in Tibetan writing, and fragments of documents deposited as votive offerings. Other votive gifts included numerous small pagodas and moulded Buddha figures. Strings of Tang Dynasty (618-907 AD) copper coins, left as offerings near Buddha statues, were taken by Stein as evidence that the site had been abandoned in the eight century AD. The V&A holds, on loan, from Khadalik, pieces of woven plant fibres, wool felt and twill; and plaster-covered woven fabric, which may have functioned as stucco backing.

Descriptive line

Circular mat of plain woven cream and red plant fibre, padded with felt.

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: The Clarendon Press, 1921), vol. I, p. 196.

Materials

Felt; Plant fibre

Techniques

Stitching; Felting; Plain weave; Padding

Categories

Archaeology; Textiles

Collection

East Asia Collection

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