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Textile fragments - Stein Collection

Stein Collection

  • Object:

    Textile fragments

  • Place of origin:

    Niya (excavated)

  • Date:

    100 AD - 300 AD (made)

  • Materials and Techniques:

    woven, dyed fabric [c]; plaited animal hair [d]; dyed string [b]

  • 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.171

  • Gallery location:

    In Storage

Three textile items with original Stein no. tag still attached. B= a piece of pink twisted cord - 2 ply with S twist. Plant fibre, possibly hemp. The pink dye is over cream/yellow fibres. The dye is not consistent but is very bright. Some dark brown fibres are included. C= a fragment of a maroon fabric. Possibly hemp. Warp and weft are 1-ply with Z twist; approx 16x16 per cm. The dye is over cream fibres and is not totally consistent. Woven with a loose plain weave. One edge has been hemmed with a whip stitch (approx. 11mm wide) using a 2 ply, S twisted thread of the same coloured fibre. Sandy residue present.
D= Part of flat band of braided goat’s hair. It has three stripes. It is buff in the middle and dark brown on each side. The outer stripes (one braided and one twisted) are of goat’s hair and the inner of plant fibre (possibly hemp). They are sewn together with buff thread (possibly hemp; 2 ply, Z twist) which appears on the outer edges and protrudes from the middle at one end. A piece of blue thread (possibly hemp; 1 ply, Z twist) is attached at one point along the braid but it is uncertain if it belongs with the braid. Sandy residue present.

Physical description

Three textile items with original Stein no. tag still attached.
B= a piece of pink twisted cord - 2 ply with S twist. Plant fibre, possibly hemp. The pink dye is over cream/yellow fibres. The dye is not consistent but is very bright. Some dark brown fibres are included.
C= a fragment of a maroon fabric. Possibly hemp. Warp and weft are 1-ply with Z twist; approx 16x16 per cm. The dye is over cream fibres and is not totally consistent. Woven with a loose plain weave. One edge has been hemmed with a whip stitch (approx. 11mm wide) using a 2 ply, S twisted thread of the same coloured fibre. Sandy residue present.
D= Part of flat band of braided goat’s hair. It has three stripes. It is buff in the middle and dark brown on each side. The outer stripes (one braided and one twisted) are of goat’s hair and the inner of plant fibre (possibly hemp). They are sewn together with buff thread (possibly hemp; 2 ply, Z twist) which appears on the outer edges and protrudes from the middle at one end. A piece of blue thread (possibly hemp; 1 ply, Z twist) is attached at one point along the braid but it is uncertain if it belongs with the braid. Sandy residue present.

Place of Origin

Niya (excavated)

Date

100 AD - 300 AD (made)

Materials and Techniques

woven, dyed fabric [c]; plaited animal hair [d]; dyed string [b]

Dimensions

Length: 72 mm B, Width: 4 mm B, Length: 140 mm C, Width: 65 mm C, Length: 360 mm D, Width: 22 mm D

Object history note

The item was lost and not originally catalogued with other items from the Stein collection.

Historical context note

Niya includes a group of towns in the southern region of the Taklamakan Desert, at the foot of the Kunlun Mountains. Once a military post under the Kingdom of Khotan, Niya became an important oasis along the southern Silk Road. Stein excavated several groups of dwellings there and found hundreds of wedge-shaped wooden tablets, some laced together in pairs with string and affixed with clay seals. The appearance of Pallas Athena, Eros and other Greek deities on some seals showed the impact of western classical art on Khotan. The tablets were inscribed with Kharoshthi, an ancient script of northwest India. Stein identified some as Buddhist prayers and others as administrative documents and he dated them to the period of the Kushan empire, which thrived in the first three centuries AD. Among ruins of dwellings and orchards, Stein found numerous textile fragments, Roman coins, wooden furniture with elaborate carving, pottery, Chinese basketry and lacquer, and documents in Chinese script which he dated to the Han Dynasty (206 BC-220 AD). The V&A holds, on loan, a large number of textiles from Niya, including leather, wool yarn, appliquéd and stitched wool felt, and braided animal hair.

Descriptive line

Fragements of textile and string

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

Wilson, Verity. 'Early Textiles from Central Asia: Approaches to Study with reference to the Stein Loan Collection in the Victoria and Albert Museum, London', Textile History 26 (1) . Devon: David & Charles/Pasold Research Fund Ltd, 1995.
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.

Materials

Hair; Plant fibre; Dye

Techniques

Weaving; Dyeing; Plaiting

Categories

Archaeology; Textiles

Collection

East Asia Collection

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