Sir Aurel Stein & the Silk Road finds - Ganzhou and Souyangcheng
Ganzhou lies north of the Nanshan Mountain within present-day Gansu Province, China. To its south lay the Tibetan border. In 111 BC, the Chinese established commands here and at Dunhuang to facilitate trade and political expansion into Central Asia. However, its fertile grazing land made it attractive to nomadic groups and China was repeatedly forced to contend with the Uygurs, Tibetans, Tanguts, Mongols and others for control of the area. The remains of a small military fort and a wall constructed during the Ming Dynasty (1368-1644 AD) are located here. When Stein visited the Buddhist temple of Ganzhou, he found colossal Buddha figures described by Marco Polo and other travellers still standing.
The V&A holds on loan from Ganzhou, a few blue and white porcelain shards from the Ming Dynasty. The three fragments shown below originally came from the bases of Ming dynasty (1368-1644) bowls and dishes.
Souyangcheng 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 various pottery shards, stoneware and roof tiles dating from second century to seventeenth century. This body sherd (below) 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. The bowl was made at Jingdezhen.