The Stein Collection thumbnail 1
The Stein Collection thumbnail 2
+3
images
Not currently on display at the V&A

The Stein Collection

Fragments
300-400 (made)
Artist/Maker
Place of origin

These delicate flowers on wooden stalks would originally have been attached to a piece of painted fabric. The pointed ends of the wooden stalks would have been pushed through holes in the fabric to give a three-dimensional effect of lotus flowers floating on a pool. The monochrome flowers have six to eight petals and are cut flat from plain-woven fabric in pale red, pale blue and buff-coloured cotton and silk. Tufts of thread have been tied to the heads of some of the pegs to represent stamens.

The textiles were recovered from the site of Miran on the eastern verge of the Taklimakan Desert in north-west China, where material was discovered at a Buddhist shrine abandoned in the 4th or 5th century. The site is part of an area of central Asia now called the Silk Road, comprising 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 the 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 textiles 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 from the Silk Road by Stein at the beginning of the 20th century. Some are silk, while others are made from the wool of a variety of different animals.


Object details
Categories
Object type
Parts
This object consists of 2 parts.

  • Textile Fragments
  • Textile Fragments
Materials and techniques
Plain-woven cotton and silk and wood. Cotton identified from ribbon-like fibres, elongated air bubbles and fine spiral markings.
Brief description
Artificial flowers of cotton and silk with wooden pegs, excavated in Miran, Xinjiang Uighur Autonamas Region, China, 300-400
Physical description
11 textile flowers, 5 textile fragments, 11 wooden pegs; six to eight-petalled monochrome flowers cut flat from plain weave pale red, pale blue and buff coloured cotton and silk. Cotton frayed from wear. Seven have pointed wooden pegs, passed through middle and tufts of thread tied to head of peg.
Dimensions
  • Flower diameter: 6.5cm
  • Peg length: 6.5cm
Style
Credit line
Stein Textile Loan Collection. On loan from the Government of India and the Archaeological Survey of India. Copyright: Government of India
Historical context
Miran lies between Kargilik and kake Lop Nor on the southern Silk Road. Stein excavated an ancient fort and remains of a Buddhist sanctuary there in 1907 and uncovered spectacular Buddhist murals in its temples and stupas. These depicted winged figures with garlands; imagery which he identified with the mythology and style of Persia and Greece. The appearance of the signature "Tita" led Stein to conclude that the paintings were the work of an artist from the eastern Mediterranean. Temple sculpture, including a colossal Buddha head, was rendered in the opulent Gandharan style of northwest India. Stein called this fusion of regional styles Graeco-Buddhist and determined that the site had flourished in the first centuries of the millennium, when trade along the southern Silk Road had thrived. The V&A holds, on loan, from Miran, silk and wool fragments, and a group of lotus flowers made of cotton and silk and fragments of a painted cotton temple hanging.
Subject depicted
Association
Summary
These delicate flowers on wooden stalks would originally have been attached to a piece of painted fabric. The pointed ends of the wooden stalks would have been pushed through holes in the fabric to give a three-dimensional effect of lotus flowers floating on a pool. The monochrome flowers have six to eight petals and are cut flat from plain-woven fabric in pale red, pale blue and buff-coloured cotton and silk. Tufts of thread have been tied to the heads of some of the pegs to represent stamens.



The textiles were recovered from the site of Miran on the eastern verge of the Taklimakan Desert in north-west China, where material was discovered at a Buddhist shrine abandoned in the 4th or 5th century. The site is part of an area of central Asia now called the Silk Road, comprising 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 the 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 textiles 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 from the Silk Road by Stein at the beginning of the 20th century. Some are silk, while others are made from the wool of a variety of different animals.
Associated objects
Bibliographic references
  • 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, pp.23-52.
  • 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, p.542.
Other number
M.III.0013 - Stein number
Collection
Accession number
LOAN:STEIN.628

About this object record

Explore the Collections contains over a million catalogue records, and over half a million images. It is a working database that includes information compiled over the life of the museum. Some of our records may contain offensive and discriminatory language, or reflect outdated ideas, practice and analysis. We are committed to addressing these issues, and to review and update our records accordingly.

You can write to us to suggest improvements to the record.

Suggest Feedback

Record createdNovember 5, 2003
Record URL
Download as: JSONIIIF Manifest