The Stein Collection thumbnail 1
Image of Gallery in South Kensington
On display at V&A South Kensington
Ceramics, Room 137, The Curtain Foundation Gallery

The Stein Collection

Shard
1368-1644 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place Of Origin

This body sherd originally came from a Ming dynasty (1368-1644) porcelain bowl with underglaze cobalt blue decoration of a wing of a bird on the inside, and a ruyi ornament inside a compartment on the outside. This sherd along with many other pottery sherds was found at the site of Suoyangcheng. Souyangcheng lies ca. 50 km east of Dunhuang, Gansu Province. It is the site of a military town featuring a castle. It was probably first settled during the Tang dynasty (618-907).

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
Porcelain, decorated in underglaze cobalt blue
Brief Description
Sherd of a porcelain bowl, decorated in underglaze cobalt blue, Ming dynasty, China.
Physical Description
Body sherd from a procelain bowl with underglaze cobalt blue decoration of a wing of a bird on the inside, and a ruyi ornament inside a compartment on the outside.
Dimensions
  • Maximum width: 4.45cm
Style
Credit line
Stein Loan Collection. On loan from the Government of India and the Archaeological Survey of India. Copyright: Government of India
Object history
Found at or near the site of Suoyangcheng (So-yang-cheng).
Historical context
Suoyangcheng lies east of Dunhuang on the southern Silk Road. Here Stein found the remains of a town enclosed in massive walls of stamped clay. Outside the city walls were traces of a canal, clay towers and pottery shards. Stein was particularly impressed by a large stupa, which he tentatively dated to the Song Dynasty (960-1279 AD). Nearby were smaller stupas filled with hundreds of miniature clay stupas made from moulds. Fragments of green-glazed pottery, depicting winged dragons, appeared to have come from the roof of a temple, long gone. Within the city walls were mounds of ancient dwellings and refuse heaps. The latter contained fragments of porcelain and glazed stoneware, along with many bronze and copper coins. Most of the coins and pottery dated to the Tang Dynasty (618-907 AD) and Sung Dynasty, indicating continuous occupation during this period. The presence of porcelain pieces from the Qing Dynasty (1644-1911 AD) suggested that the site had served as a temporary shelter centuries later. The V&A holds, on loan, shards of blue and white porcelain from the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644 AD) and Qing Dynasty, celadon-glazed stoneware dating from the 11th to the twelfth century, and fragments of green-glazed roof tile dating from the second to the ninth century.
Production
from Suoyangcheng
Subjects depicted
Summary
This body sherd originally came from a Ming dynasty (1368-1644) porcelain bowl with underglaze cobalt blue decoration of a wing of a bird on the inside, and a ruyi ornament inside a compartment on the outside. This sherd along with many other pottery sherds was found at the site of Suoyangcheng. Souyangcheng lies ca. 50 km east of Dunhuang, Gansu Province. It is the site of a military town featuring a castle. It was probably first settled during the Tang dynasty (618-907).



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.
Bibliographic References
  • Stein, Marc Aurel. Serindia: detailed report of explorations in Central Asia and westernmost China. Oxford: Clarendon, 1921, vol. 3, p.1106
  • Stein, Marc Aurel. Serindia: detailed report of explorations in Central Asia and westernmost China. Oxford: Clarendon, 1921, vol. 4, pl.IV
Other Number
So.0030 - Stein number
Collection
Accession Number
LOAN:INDIA.23

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record createdJune 27, 2007
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