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Detailed map showing the areas explored by Sir Aurel Stein

Detailed map showing the areas explored by Sir Aurel Stein

Endere

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.

Ruined tower with remains of wind-eroded dwelling in the foreground, Endere, Sir Marc Aurel Stein, 1906. Photo 392/27(104), © The British Library Board (left). Same view, John Falconer, 2008. Photo 1125/16(306), © International Dunhuang Project (right)

Ruined tower with remains of wind-eroded dwelling in the foreground, Endere, Sir Marc Aurel Stein, 1906. Photo 392/27(104), © The British Library Board (left). Same view, John Falconer, 2008. Photo 1125/16(306), © International Dunhuang Project (right)

Endere site with gate, Sir Marc Aurel Stein, 1906. Photo 392/27(102), © The british Library Board

Endere site with gate, Sir Marc Aurel Stein, 1906. Photo 392/27(102), © The British Library Board



Endere stupa, Victoria Swift, 2008. Photo 1187/2(172), © The British Library Board

Endere stupa, Victoria Swift, 2008. Photo 1187/2(172), © The British Library Board
 

Ruins of large building inside Endere fort, Victoria Swift, 2008. Photo 1187/29223, © International Dunhuang Project

Ruins of large building inside Endere fort, Victoria Swift, 2008. Photo 1187/29223, © International Dunhuang Project

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.

Miran

Miran lies between Kargilik and lake Lop Nor on thesouthern 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.

Miran stupa, Sir Marc Aurel Stein, 1907. Photo 392/27(156), © The British Library Board

Miran stupa, Sir Marc Aurel Stein, 1907. Photo 392/27(156), © The British Library Board

Miran stupa ruin, Sir Marc Aurel Stein, 1907. Photo 392/26(256), © The British Library Board

Miran stupa ruin, Sir Marc Aurel Stein, 1907. Photo 392/26(256), © The British Library Board

View looking along base of stupa, Miran, Sir Marc Aurel Stein, 1906. Photo 392/27(118), © The British Library Board (left). Same view, Victoria Swift, 2008. Photo 1187/2(131), © International Dunhuang Project (right)

View looking along base of stupa, Miran, Sir Marc Aurel Stein, 1906. Photo 392/27(118), © The British Library Board (left). Same view, Victoria Swift, 2008. Photo 1187/2(131), © International Dunhuang Project (right)

View of Miran from west, Victoria Swift, 2008. Photo 1187/2(150), © International Dunhuang Project

View of Miran from west, Victoria Swift, 2008. Photo 1187/2(150), © International Dunhuang Project


 

The V&A holds on loan from Miran, silk and wool fragments, and a group of lotus flowers made of cotton and silk and plaster-covered fabric fragments.

Miran Fort

Ruined fort, Sir Marc Aurel Stein, 1906. Photo 392/27(109), © The British Library Board

Ruined fort, Sir Marc Aurel Stein, 1906. Photo 392/27(109), © The British Library Board

The Miran fort lies midway along southern Silk Road, at the foot of the Kunlun Mountains. When Tibetan troops occupied the area in the late eight century AD, they built the fort as part of a defensive network in and effort to control the surrounding area, which included a nearby mountain pass into Tibet, and the Qinghai route of the Silk Road into China.  The fort was abandoned at the end of the 9th century, and had declined into a small farming community by the time Sir Aurel Stein visited the area.

In 1907, Stein excavated rubbish heaps at the fort and found wood slips, dating from the eight to the ninth century AD, which provided early examples of Tibetan writing. He also found fragments of wool rugs in bright colours and pieces of silk.

Ruined structure, Miran Fort, Sir Marc Aurel Stein, 1914. Photo 392/28(357), © The British Library Board

Ruined structure, Miran Fort, Sir Marc Aurel Stein, 1914. Photo 392/28(357), © The British Library Board

Southern bastion of fort, John Falconer, 2008. Photo 1125/16(130), © International Dunhuang Project

Southern bastion of fort, John Falconer, 2008. Photo 1125/16(130), © International Dunhuang Project


The V&A holds a large number of textiles from the Miran Fort on loan. They include patterned and plain woven silk and wool, woven and spun hemp, woven horsehair, cords and painted silk.

A gift in your will

You may not have thought of including a gift to a museum in your will, but the V&A is a charity and legacies form an important source of funding for our work. It is not just the great collectors and the wealthy who leave legacies to the V&A. Legacies of all sizes, large and small, make a real difference to what we can do and your support can help ensure that future generations enjoy the V&A as much as you have.

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