Carpet fragments

Carpet fragments

Carpet fragments
Central Asia
200-400 AD
Knotted pile and plain weave in wool
Length 28 cm x width 18.6 cm
Museum no. LOAN:STEIN.540 (L.A.I.ii.001)
© Victoria and Albert Museum, London
On loan from Government of India and the Archaeological Survey of India

Carpets and rugs are mentioned in 3rd to the 4th century documents as given in payment or part-payment for a wide variety of wares, from women to camels. Finds of wooden weft beaters linked with pile making or tapestry weaving undoubtedly show that these types of textiles were produced locally. The symmetrical closed knot, or the Ghiordes knot, had generally been used in the making of the ancient pile carpets. Today, the Persian knot is used almost exclusively in the Xinjiang region.

The fragments of the carpet seen here are too small to reveal its original design, but seem to have been highly decorative and colourful. On the back, there are remains of rows of long cream-coloured woollen tufts, consisting of two wool yarns slipped around the warp without being knotted. This would have prevented the carpet slipping on a smooth surface or added warmth to a bed-cover. It was found in a corner of a room in a ruined dwelling Stein suggested may once have belonged to a petty local head-man or representative of the indigenous administration of Loulan.