Rainbow silks

Rainbow silks

Rainbow silks
China
Tang dynasty, 600-800 AD
Plain weave in silk
Museum no. LOAN:STEIN.658 (Ch.00488) / 639 (Ch. 00236) / 459 (Ch.00256) / 455 (Ch.00325) / 463 (Ch.00436) / 671 (Ch.00495.b) / 465 (Ch.00314)
© Victoria and Albert Museum, London
On loan from Government of India and the Archaeological Survey of India

The range of colours used at the Mogao Grottoes during the Tang dynasty covers the whole known spectrum, and after over 1000 years still are amazingly vivid and strong. Dye analysis has shown that the dyes used were a mixture of Chinese and Central Asian dyes. A large part of the textile collection from Dunhuang consists of small squares and rectangles, for example there are 17 pieces of the yellow silk and 12 of the green, all of similar small size. It is possible that these textile squares had a votive purpose, maybe as small offerings to a deity.