Pair of shoes
Western Han dynasty, 206 BC-10 AD
Plain weave in plant fibre, felted wool and leather
Width 12 cm x length 26.5 cm
Museum no. LOAN:STEIN.55 (T.VIII.002)
© Victoria and Albert Museum, London
On loan from Government of India and the Archaeological Survey of India
These fairly large shoes were woven to shape by string and then closely pressed which gives a ribbed mat-like texture over sole and vamp. The ankles of both shoes are reinforced with a strip of stitched canvas, probably of hemp. One of the shoes has its sole strengthened with goatskin while the other has felted wool. The shoes would have been worn on top of inner shoes and the ankle opening would have been tightened around the legs to avoid sand getting into the shoes.
These were recovered from the site named by Stein as the Limes Watchtowers. The Chinese built a line of defensive walls with regular watchtowers extending east to west north of the town Dunhuang. These shoes were found in one of these westernmost watchtowers where also a document were discovered with a date, AD 8, giving the shoes an early date.