Miniature canopy

Miniature canopy

Miniature canopy
China
Tang dynasty, 600-800 AD
Plain weave and damask in silk, wood
Width 11.9 cm x height 11.5 cm
Museum no. LOAN:STEIN.491:1 (Ch.00442)
© Victoria and Albert Museum, London
On loan from Government of India and the Archaeological Survey of India

Stein retrieved seventeen miniature canopies from Cave 17, of which sixteen can be found in the V&A loan collection. They are all made from different materials in various combinations, but the canopies generally measures from about 20 cm in diameter to 11 cm as in this example. Most of the canopies have remains of tassels attached to each corner and suspension loop placed in the centre.

The canopy shown here consists of two fabrics: one half is of yellow plain woven silk stitched to two quarters of blue-greenish pattern woven silk with a lozenge design. The four tassels in the corners are made of cut strips of yellow and undyed plain woven silk, while the suspension loop is made of undyed plain woven cotton. When complete the canopies would have been stretched over a framework of two bent twigs, crossed diagonally to give the umbrella shape required. Only one of the original seventeen canopies retains this framework, but this is now completely detached from the object itself.
Although these canopies are very small, they would originally have had a votive use.