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Fragments - The Stein Collection

The Stein Collection

  • Object:


  • Place of origin:

    Endere (excavated)

  • Date:

    400-1000 (made)

  • Artist/Maker:


  • Materials and Techniques:

    Plain woven wool and silk and wool yarn

  • 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:


  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

This bundle of fragments includes plain woven wool and silk as well as lengths of wool yarn. Their original purpose is unclear although they are likely to have had a utilitarian purpose. It was recovered from the foot of a rampart at the site of Endere, a fort site that had been occupied during the fifth century AD. Their original use is unclear although they are likely to have had a utilitarian function.
Endere is in an area of Central Asia 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.
These 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 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

Bundle of fragments including plain weave pink wool, lengths of cream wool yarn and plain weave blue silk.

Place of Origin

Endere (excavated)


400-1000 (made)



Materials and Techniques

Plain woven wool and silk and wool yarn


Diameter: 13 cm bundle, approx.

Object history note

Attached to bundle is a circular tag label showing Stein number possibly in Stein's handwriting or that of his assistant, Miss F M G Lorimer. Bundle has been housed in a paper wrapper also showing Stein number.

Historical context note

Endere was once an important military post and centre of Buddhist worship on the southern Silk Road. Coins found there indicate that the Chinese controlled the area as early as the Han Dynasty (206 BC-220 AD). During the Tang Dynasty (618-907 AD), Endere fell to the Tibetans and the city was abandoned in the ninth century AD, when the nearby Endere River changed its course. Stein excavated there in 1901 and 1906, locating remains of its great fort and a number of buildings devoted to Buddhist worship. In one shrine he found textile rags and fragments of Buddhist manuscripts deposited at the feet of stucco statuary, possibly as votive offerings. Written in Chinese, Tibetan and Sanskrit and other scripts, they suggested that the shrine had drawn worshippers from far and wide. The V&A holds, on loan, a number of textiles from Endere, including tanned leather, wool felts and yarns, woven silk, and braided plant fibres.

Descriptive line

Bundle of wool and silk fragments

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. 292.


Silk; Wool; Yarn


Plain weave


Archaeology; Textiles


East Asia Collection

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