Silk fragments with floral medallions

Silk fragments with floral medallions

Silk fragments with floral medallions (Textiles - Room 98, Case 3)
Central Asia
Tang dynasty, late 700-800 AD
Samite silk
Width 12 cm x length 27.5 cm (largest piece)
Museum no. LOAN:STEIN.642 (Ch.00230)
© Victoria and Albert Museum, London
On loan from Government of India and the Archaeological Survey of India

Stein assigned one number to a group of 57 fragments of pattern woven silk, of which two are now in the British Museum. Various shapes and sizes are represented, including long narrow strips, small rectangular and triangular pieces. Four fragments have seams and several have remnants of stitching. It is unclear what the fragments would have been used for. Silks were used for both devotional and more secular use, such as money.

Putting the fragments together it is possible to reconstruct the pattern, which has a geometric floral design in yellow, pale and dark blue, white and green on a red ground. The naturalistic design favoured in the Tang dynasty has been transformed her into stepped outlines, perhaps the result of Central Asian weavers’ interpretation of an originally Chinese design. Technically, these fragments belong to the Sogdian samite textile group.