Canopy with paper flowers
Tang dynasty, 600-800 AD
Plain weave in hemp, samite silk and paper
Width 17.5 cm x height 17.5 cm (canopy)
Diameter 8.5 cm (largest flower)
Museum no. LOAN:STEIN.483 (Ch.0077)
© Victoria and Albert Museum, London
On loan from Government of India and the Archaeological Survey of India
Stein describes these as ‘nine artificial flowers tied up in a linen square’. The square is a miniature or token canopy of plain woven hemp with a stitched down suspension of blue fabric fastened in the centre. There are remains of tufts and tassels of samite silk in each corner. It is not clear why the flowers ended up in the canopy.
The artificial flowers of various designs are made of coloured and inked paper, cut and pasted together. Some of the flowers have a square wooden disc fastened to the middle of the back by means of a central hole. This might have allowed a wooden peg to be inserted, maybe representing a stalk which was then pushed through a cloth. Artificial flowers may have been used as offerings at the many Buddhist festivals and could have been stuck to walls, ceilings or floors by devotees. Paper flowers have also been found in tombs.