Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Ceramics, Room 137, The Curtain Foundation Gallery

The Stein Collection

Figure Fragment
3rd century - 6th century (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

This terracotta fragment of the head of a horse, might have belonged to a figurine of a horse with rider. The facial features, reins and mane are incised. Everything below the neck is missing. It was acquired at Yotkan, the site of the former capital of the Kingdom of Khotan, ca. 10 km west of today's town of Khotan in Xinjiang, China, and a major Buddhist centre. At this site large quantities of antiquities were brought to light, unfortunately generally not from scientific excavations. The most characteristic finds are small terracottas, moulded appliques in classical style and tiny animal figurines.

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.


object details
Category
Object Type
Materials and Techniques
Moulded terracotta
Brief Description
Horse head-shaped fragment, China.
Physical Description
Terracotta fragment of a horse's head. Facial features, reins and mane are incised. Everything below the neck is missing.
Dimensions
  • Height: 2.5cm
  • Width: 3.5cm
Credit line
Stein Loan Collection. On loan from the Government of India and the Archaeological Survey of India. Copyright: Government of India
Object history
Purchased at or from the site of Yotkan.
Historical context
Yotkan lies near the western end of the southern Silk Road. It was once the capital of the Kingdom of Khotan and a centre of Buddhism. Stein was the first person to excavate the site. He found fragments of pottery, engraved stones, coins bearing Chinese characters and Indian script, and animal bones; all indicating occupation for many centuries. Among the pottery finds were a large number of terracotta figures depicting monkeys, camels, human heads, flowers, monsters, birds and oxen, all dating from the third to the sixth century. Flakes of gold throughout the site were evidence of the gilded temples and monasteries which had flourished during this period. The V&A holds, on loan, a large number of terracotta figures from Yotkan.
Production
from Yotkan
Subject depicted
Summary
This terracotta fragment of the head of a horse, might have belonged to a figurine of a horse with rider. The facial features, reins and mane are incised. Everything below the neck is missing. It was acquired at Yotkan, the site of the former capital of the Kingdom of Khotan, ca. 10 km west of today's town of Khotan in Xinjiang, China, and a major Buddhist centre. At this site large quantities of antiquities were brought to light, unfortunately generally not from scientific excavations. The most characteristic finds are small terracottas, moulded appliques in classical style and tiny animal figurines.



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.
Associated Object
LOAN:INDIA.45 (Version)
Bibliographic Reference
Stein, Marc Aurel. Serindia: detailed report of explorations in Central Asia and westernmost China. Oxford: Clarendon, 1921, vol. 1, p.110
Other Number
Yo.0030.k - Stein number
Collection
Accession Number
LOAN:INDIA.66

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record createdJune 13, 2007
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