Clamp-resist dyed fragment

Clamp-resist dyed fragment

Clamp-resist dyed fragment
China
Late Tang to Five dynasties, 800-900 AD
Plain and patterned weave in silk, clamp-resist dyed
Width 58 cm x height 31 cm
Museum no. LOAN:STEIN.682 (Ch.xxii.0036)
© Victoria and Albert Museum, London
On loan from Government of India and the Archaeological Survey of India

There are seven fragments of this textile in the V&A loan collection. All have the same Stein number and seem to originate from the same bolt of silk. A plain woven cream silk has been clamp-resist dyed in a pattern of dark blue ground with floral design in orange and green. It is possible that these fragments once formed part of a group of banners.

The technique of clamp-resist dyeing involves the use of two symmetrically carved wooden blocks, which are placed on either side of the textile and clamped together, and placed in a dyeing vat. The convex parts of the carved blocks meet and resist the dye, while the concave parts of the carved blocks allow the fabric to soak up the dye. To create this pattern, two blocks carved with symmetrical pattern in three areas, one for the ground, one flower and one leaf were used. So the colours for the pattern, orange for the flower, green for leaf and dark blue for the ground are separated very well and never overlap.